Mrs. Ralston Goes to Washington: OVAC Lobby Day

Meghan and Cindy at the CapitalWhen I got the invitation from Aimee to participate in the lobby day for One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), I was very excited and a bit nervous. I had never lobbied before nor had I ever been to DC! Lucky for me, the IMF had Meghan Buzby, Director of U.S. Advocacy at my side, to ease my apprehension and guide me through the advocacy process.  Once I got to the Hill, I found it very easy to share my story of myeloma and the importance of cancer research funding.  As a myeloma support group leader in Kansas City, I have seen firsthand how the recent development of novel therapies has greatly improved and extended the lives of many members in our group.  This experience also increased my confidence level.  As a result, I will find contacting my local offices to schedule in-district meetings a lot easier than I had ever anticipated.

83 advocates from 35 different states attended the OVAC Lobby Day 2013 and held 150 Congressional meetings.  Our group representing the great State of Kansas appeared to be the largest from any one state.  Along with me, who represented the IMF, and speaking on behalf of all cancer patients to our legislatures was Dan Dixon PhD, a cancer researcher from the University of Kansas Cancer Center, which recently received its NIH designation, and Dr. James Hamilton MD, a surgeon from Topeka, KS.  Representing the Livestrong Foundation were Alisha Hammond and HaLeesa Gabel, a Leukemia survivor along with her daughter Ashlee, and Gay Garret with the American Cancer Society. 

 Our voices were there to make the fight against cancer a national priority, by requesting an end to the sequestration and to stop the cuts to cancer research and prevention funding as well as to request an increase in funding for the fight against cancer. 

We were very pleased by the support shown to our group of advocates by all the offices we called upon.  I had the pleasure of meeting directly with my Representative, Kevin Yoder, who as a result of our meeting is now a member of the House Cancer Caucus and he stated he “will continue to work to support cancer research institutions, like the National Institute of Health (NIH), that have such a positive impact on the lives of so many Americans.” Also, Senator Jerry Moran, a member of the Senate Cancer Caucus is very committed to funding the NIH for cancer research. 

It was a fascinating experience to witness how our government works and to meet so many people who were all dedicated and passionate to make a difference in the lives of people dealing with cancer. Each member had a different story to tell, yet we all focused on the need to make funding the TOP PRORITY in the fight against cancer. 

One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) is a coalition of 40 cancer-related organizations representing millions of Americans.  OVAC works in support of federally funded programs that engage in the fight against cancer. The Coalition works to ensure that the Administration and Congress make funding for cancer research and related programs a top national priority in fiscal year (FY) 2014.  

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