As the House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act recently, I thought of the thousands of people facing pancreatic cancer, and the millions of Americans living with cancer and other pre-existing conditions. Intending to replace parts of the Affordable Care Act, the proposed legislation includes amendments which would compromise patients’ access to appropriate cancer care. As the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration, I am reminded of the critical role we each play in improving outcomes for patients facing pancreatic cancer through advocacy. Today, I am asking you to join me in the fight to end pancreatic cancer at Advocacy Day 2017.
On June 19-20, our powerful grassroots army will gather in Washington to turn Capitol Hill purple. We will stand tall and let our members of Congress know that by working together, we have the power to save lives.
Pancreatic cancer is the nation’s deadliest major cancer with a five-year survival rate of just 9 percent, killing more people than breast cancer each year. Research advancements are urgently needed to improve treatments and find an early detection method, yet proposed budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) threaten our progress.
This is why your participation at Advocacy Day is more critical than ever.
In my 17 years as the leader of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, we’ve made a lot of progress and one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way – the power of showing up.
Throughout our organization’s history, we have set bold goals that required hard work, new ideas and collaborative efforts. We often were told that our ambitions were too high. Yet we never gave up. We kept showing up.
Together, we’ve made real progress on all fronts. We’ve funded more than $35 million in research grants, provided support to over 135,000 patients and families, and through our powerful advocacy work, the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act was signed into law in 2013, leading to a national focus on pancreatic cancer research and new federal funding opportunities.
The passage of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act was the culmination of five years of effort by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s passionate advocates and volunteers – people like you – who kept showing up, sending 76,000 emails, making 14,000 calls to Congress and participating in 1,500 meetings.
Thanks to increased private and federal research funding for pancreatic cancer, there is a deeper understanding of this complex disease and more scientists than ever before are studying pancreatic cancer and standing ready to translate these findings into better outcomes for patients.
So in the face of proposed NIH budget cuts, we cannot let decades of hard work and progress be lost. We know all too well that research funding is not just a matter of numbers, this is a matter of people’s lives.
No matter how difficult the challenges are that lie ahead, we must continue to show up.
So I ask you to please join me at Advocacy Day 2017. In the shadow of our nation’s Capitol you will have the power to rewrite the future of pancreatic cancer, simply by showing up and sharing your passion and your story with your members of Congress. That is how we’ve gotten to where we are today and this is how we will continue to change the course of history together.
I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C. Thank you for your support.