Taking cancer fight to center stage here, D.C.

Last week, I had the honor of representing Minnesota on Capitol Hill by traveling to Washington, D.C., with more than 700 of my fellow American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers from across the country to urge Congress to make cancer a national priority.

I told staff for U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., that cancer is nonpartisan, and that Congress should seize the opportunity to pass critical legislation that can help end cancer as we know it. This includes improving research into childhood cancer.

Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death among children ages 1-19, with more than 14,500 children facing a diagnosis this year. Despite an overall increase in survival rates, progress in treating certain pediatric cancers remains limited. Additionally, childhood cancer and its treatments often lead to lifelong side effects and survivorship issues.

We asked for and received Rep. Emmer’s support for the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act. This bill would advance pediatric cancer research, increase transparency and expertise for pediatric cancer research at the National Institutes of Health, create publicly accessible compassionate-use policies, and expand research into the long-term side effects due to childhood cancer and its treatments.

If my visit to D.C. can help make this kind of difference, imagine what we all can do together. I hope you’ll visit acscan.org to join us, giving us a stronger and louder voice in the fight against cancer. — Cory Whiting, Zimmerman (Editor’s note: Whiting is volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network)