"It was important for us to be there to advocate on behalf of our patients and fight to sustain the innovative research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)," says Meghan Buzby, IMF Director of U.S. Advocacy. She was joined in Washington D.C. by fellow IMF advocacy team members Tiffany Kaszuba and Jennifer Leib.
"With devastating cuts to its budget, the NIH will face a decline in important scientific advances in cancer treatment,” says Meghan Buzby. "This will impact all cancer patients, including myeloma patients. Without funding for research we cannot keep moving forward in the fight against cancer."
The rally coincided with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Over 200 organizations were represented at the rally, which was organized to protest the 5% cut to the NIH's $31 billion budget imposed by Congress last month through sequestration.
Myeloma patient Victor Slootsky, of Ashton, Maryland, says what drew him to attend the rally was the threat the cutbacks pose to cutting-edge cancer research. "I was diagnosed with myeloma in 2008. The fact that I am able to attend a rally like this is because of advances made in myeloma treatment. Cancer patients want to see research speeded up – not slowed down by funding roadblocks."
Research aimed at improving the life of myeloma patients is at the core of the IMF’s mission, notes Meghan Buzby. "The IMF’s research arm, the International Myeloma Working Group, is actively engaged in myeloma research around the world. Just last month we were excited to launch the IMF’s groundbreaking Black Swan Research Initiative™."
One after another, for more than two hours, lawmakers, patient advocates, and celebrities addressed the importance of research for patients and society. All agreed that the nation’s health is at stake. As the Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, put it, "Today’s scientific discovery is tomorrow’s medical advance."