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October 2000 Volume 4, Issue 1:
One Voice Against Cancer
By Brad High
An effort to urge Congress to boost cancer-related funding at the CDC to $622 million
At the invitation of Greg Brozeit, I boarded a southbound Amtrak train in Philly on Monday morning and headed to Washington D.C. to join more than 250 cancer research advocates for the "One Voice Against Cancer" lobby days. Greg had successfully persuaded a jaded and politically disengaged "boomer" that the effort was important. Troops were needed on Capitol Hill to help ensure that Congress would support higher funding for the NIH, NCI and CDC. One Voice Against Cancer, representing over 36 cancer organizations, united in an effort to achieve a 15% increase in the NIH budget, appropriate $4.1 billion to the NCI, and to boost cancer-related funding at the CDC to $622 million. And guess what? They did!

After a well-organized afternoon of training and workshops, participants attended an evening reception in the Senate Hart Office Building and then re-grouped the next morning for breakfast and a brief pep talk inside the U.S. Capitol. The organizers of this event did a terrific job explaining what we could expect once we fanned out over the Hill in small groups to call upon the offices of our respective members of Congress throughout the rest of the day. "Stay on message," we were repeatedly advised. "You will probably not meet your congressperson face-to-face but are more likely to be speaking with a staffer," and this was certainly true of our Pennsylvania delegation's visits. The staffers were young, smart, and attentive as we spoke. I shared a particular interest with One Voice Against Cancer in calling for the allocation of more funds in the CDC's budget for cancer registries. Registries throughout the nation have been closing due to inadequate funding. The Hanford Health Initiative - a registry near the Hanford, Washington nuclear facility in the Pacific Northwest where I was born and raised -had closed down only a few days earlier. I was pleased to observe that each staffer we met that day made a written note at the mention of the registries issue and was thrilled to learn two weeks later that an additional $15 million has been added to the appropriations bill for their funding.

I learned that one voice can make an impact. Combining with One Voice Against Cancer, I found that many individual voices can make even more of a difference. But mostly I learned that policy makers can't be expected to make decisions about people like me if they don't know about me. I learned that we all have to tell our stories to make a difference.
Editor's Note: IMFer Brad High of the Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group joined IMF advocacy consultant Greg Brozeit to represent the IMF at the "One Voice Against Cancer" lobby days in Washington, DC on June 19-20, 2000. Another lobby day will be held on September 20, 2000 combining the resources of the National Coalition for Cancer Research and One Voice Against Cancer.

Please contact Greg Brozeit if you are interested in participating.

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