Kansas cancer patients, survivors call on Congress

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:01 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansans joined hundreds of cancer patients and survivors to make a nationwide call on Congress to make cancer a national priority.

The Cancer Action Network says almost 700 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones from all 50 states and nearly every congressional district dialed into calls and log onto virtual meetings to ask members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority.

The Network said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hosting its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day virtually for the first time. It said while the event will look different, the advocates' dedication remains the same.

“Cancer hasn’t stopped, so neither have we. Congress must take action to address the needs of cancer patients during and beyond the pandemic,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Emergency funding alone is not enough. We need consistent and significant increases in cancer research and prevention funding to ensure we maximize past investments and continue to make significant progress preventing and treating a disease that is projected to kill more than 600,000 Americans this year.”

According to the Network, part of the American Cancer Society, in addition to urging lawmakers to boost research and prevention funding, volunteer advocates are also encouraging them to advance legislation addressing disparities in cancer care and supports equitable access to cancer clinical trials through the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act.

The Network said the Act is named after a Black woman that died from cervical cancer and whose cells cultivated during her treatment have been used to develop some of the most important cancer treatments. It said the Act would help focus on identifying and removing barriers preventing underrepresented groups from joining in cancer clinical trials. It said communities of color and other medically underserved groups continue to have high cancer rates and are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive the best treatment compared to other groups.

“We need advancements in cancer prevention, detection and treatment to be available to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or their socioeconomic status,” said Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society and ACS CAN. “Our volunteers have an important role in communicating the critical responsibility lawmakers have in helping reduce cancer incidence and suffering across the entire continuum of this disease.”

According to the Network, on Tuesday morning, NCAA Division I basketball coaches Jay Wright of Villanova University and Bill Self of the University of Kansas rallied advocates through taped remarks before advocates' virtual meetings. It said the coaches are members of Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

The Network said in Kansas, cancer patients, survivors and advocates showcased Lights of Hope bags on their front porches, kitchen tables and lawns. It said during the difficult financial climate, volunteers successfully raised $4,450.

“Amid this unprecedented pandemic, cancer patients and survivors need help more than ever,” said Christina Cowart, ACS CAN Kansas Grassroots Manager. “The funds raised through Lights of Hope are critical to continuing the mission of ACS CAN, which is to advocate for everyone affected by cancer, including the estimated 16,170 Kansans who will receive a cancer diagnosis this year,” she added.

ACS CAN said it is thanking local sponsors of Lights of Hope, Ernest Spencer Metals and University National Bank.

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