Congratulations and THANK YOU to Jack Aiello, support group leader and patient from the Bay area for being this month's Advocate of the Month!
Earlier this year, Jack Aiello took his voice to Washington to fight for legislation important to him and the myeloma community. With support from the IMF Advocacy team, he met with the health staff of Senator Dianne Feinstein (DEM-CA), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16).
Jack requested funding for research and asked for support of the 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act and the Cancer Coverage Parity Act (HR 2366). For more information on Jack's asks, please visit the Issues & Legislation page on our Action Center.
We asked Jack, someone who has prior experience with meetings like this, to share his experience and advice for others interested in getting involved.
In His Own Words...
"Having made trips to DC like this in the past, I've learned it's often more important to offer support rather than just ask for congressional help. Together with the IMF, we presented information that the IMF is headquartered in CA and has 9 myeloma support groups in the state. I spoke of my role as a support group facilitator and how important it is to offer myeloma patients and caregivers hope and education after their diagnosis. Congressional folks appreciate this knowledge because it's not uncommon for patients or caregivers to call on the congressperson's local office and seek help on subjects such as insurance costs, second opinions, and local support. I've been told more than once by congressional folks that they appreciate this information and will pass it along to their state's offices. The IMF made it easy to do this by providing them with excellent leave-behind materials.
"While I appreciate visiting the DC offices of my congressional folks, there are other ways all of us can get involved. One way is to visit your congressperson's local office. Call ahead to make an appointment, typically with the staff member specializing in health, take some IMF literature with you so that you're offering support, and be prepared to talk about an issue or two. It's easy to learn about issues by joining the IMF Advocacy website, which brings me to my second way of getting involved. Often the IMF site will prompt you to email your congressperson about specific issues, i.e. upcoming votes on bills, co-sponsoring a bill, and more. It's easy to amend the sample email provided for you with your personal story so the process is quick. And yet, it is connections like this that can make a difference for all of us." -Jack Aiello
Thank you Jack for lending your voice to the myeloma community!