"I've taken on the challenges of living with a terminal illness that has no cure and I've found a cause to party each and every day… because just living is a win against cancer that I'm compelled to continuously celebrate!" – Jameca Barrett, January 2013 Advocate of the Month
Jameca Barrett of Atlanta, Georgia was diagnosed with Stage III Multiple Myeloma in 2003 at the age of 26. At that time she was the youngest patient diagnosed in the Metro-Atlanta Area. She has been in remission for nine years and as a young survivor is excited about making a difference in the lives of other survivors through her advocacy work. The Advocacy Team is inspired by Jameca each day because of her commitment to help empower those young and old living with myeloma who have decades of life ahead of them.
“Since 2004 I've attended Multiple Myeloma Support group meetings,” says Jameca when asked about what sparked her interest in advocacy, “and in recent years became more active by volunteering. However, two years ago the conversations of relapses and members losing their battle with the disease became too overwhelming for me as a young survivor (age 33) trying to figure out how to live without fearing cancer. I wanted to continue to volunteer, but in a different area. When I learned about advocacy I immediately knew I had to become involved. It not only provided me with a way to fearlessly address cancer, but also to attack it, while educating the public of all of the changes that are needed to health care in America to better the lives of survivors.”
Jameca has been an amazing Action Team leader in Atlanta working with the area myeloma support groups and leukemia support groups to help grow the action network. She took a lead role in registering people for our Advocacy Training last month and worked hand in hand with grassroots liaison, Aimee Martin, to build awareness of the event to area hospitals and clinics. Because of her outreach, we were able to recruit individuals outside the myeloma community who wanted to learn more about health care reform and advocating for issues important to them.
Of the experience this fall, Jameca most enjoyed “educating my family, friends, and community on the life changing impact that policy changes will have on cancer patients and how their voice matters in standing up for me. It was also very rewarding and moving to have people I love eager to get involved.”
This spring Jameca is looking forward to working with the folks who attended the training to set up in-district meetings with key Congressmen about the Cancer Drug Coverage Act of 2013. The group will help to build co-sponsors for the bill and organize a targeted Postcards for Parity Program in the area. We are grateful for all of the hard work Jameca has done on behalf of the IMF and all cancer patients. She is an amazing and powerful advocate and we look forward to her continued work with us to build a strong base of advocates in Atlanta.