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May 2013 Advocate of the Month: The Joyce Family

May 2013 Advocate of the MonthFor the past 9 months the IMF and the SPEAC coalition members have been focusing on implementation of the ACA in three target states: Illinois, New Jersey, and Nevada. Both Illinois and New Jersey passed oral anticancer parity legislation in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and we are looking for a win in Nevada this year. One family has made a huge difference in making this goal a reality by working together and collecting over 260 postcards in two months. The Joyce family made Postcards for Parity a family affair with all five of them talking to the people in their lives about myeloma and SB 266, the Nevada oral anticancer treatment bill.

Christy Joyce, diagnosed in 2008, decided to get involved in the Postcards for Parity Program “because it seemed horribly unfair that people are being denied access to lifesaving drugs.” And when she asked her family to complete postcards for their legislators, her husband and three kids all asked if they could get involved too. “The reality is, facing any cancer is a very scary thing; not only for the patient but for their families too and my family has done whatever they could from day one.” In the early years the family organized a fundraising run and this year they participated in the Postcards for Parity Program. “There is not too much we are able to do, but show support and fight,” says Christy’s daughter Kelsey. “And we fight as a family. Whether it is passing laws like this to make it possible for patients to get the medicine they need, or fundraising to raise money for further research, we need to do what it takes to fight and beat the battle. Getting postcards as a family was just one way we are able to show support to my mom.” Not only did they show support for Christy, but for all Nevada myeloma patients by asking everyone they knew to fill out a postcard.  

With her children spread across Nevada they were able to provide support from many areas of the state. John and Talia are in college and grad school respectively, and each spoke to their classes about the issue and had everyone complete cards. Her son John comments, “It was very easy to collect a lot of cards and support when we all split up. We all have different resources so we were able to reach a wide audience. “I got an entire class to sign one just by explaining the cause for a couple minutes.  By explaining exactly what is going on with the insurance companies and how costly and problematic it can be for cancer patients, people agreed that this bill's passage is a no-brainer. I was never turned down once when I explained what was going on.”

Each family member found it easy to speak about the issue and ask others to support their mother. “When you feel so passionate about something, it is easy to inform others and their signature usually followed quickly, Kelsey explained. “Every single signatory showed their support as well which I am very grateful for.”

Christy’s family fights together each and every day. “We strongly believe the only thing left to do after receiving news of diagnosis is to get out there and be proactive,” says Kelsey. “Raise money for research in whatever way you can, raise awareness of bills like this going to legislature, and fight the fight along with your loved ones. There is not a battle fought alone in our family, and I think that makes such a horrible thing a tiny bit better.”

Christy writes, “My family and I are very happy to be advocates, however small a piece of the big puzzle we are.”

Well folks, they are a big piece of the puzzle in Nevada and on May 8th Christy and her family are going to deliver the postcards collected for SB 266 to the Nevada state assembly members. Even if you’ve already completed a postcard, please click here to email your assembly member today.

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