Today is LiveSTRONG Day! I am here in Washington, D.C. celebrating LiveSTRONG Day as one of the two representatives selected by the Lance Armstrong Foundation from the state of NM. Our goal is two-fold – to learn about advocacy, and then to use those skills to talk to my state representatives here in D.C. It’s a remarkable experience. I am hear with 99 other delegates from across the country – two from each state.
Thus far, it has been a remarkable experience. Yesterday we spent the day in training – learning advocacy skills, as well as facts related to survivorship issues, research, and government funding. Unfortunately, the latter is the big issue. Funding for research has been cut dramatically in the past couple of years. Without funding, we cannot continue the momentum we have gained in the war on cancer.
I can speak about this on a personal level. 25 years ago, my brother was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma. At the young age of 14, he lost his valiant battle. The drugs, the technologies, the resources – they just weren’t there at the time.
21 years later, at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I feel blessed that having cancer at that time, was a whole different experience than 20 years prior. Research in the field of cancer survivorship had come a long way. I was given many opportunities my brother did not have. I was given my life.
We can’t loose this momentum. Last night we were at a congressional reception where Lance Armstrong was the keynote speaker and he said, “I believe we can win the war on cancer by 2015”. Those are powerful words. And after spending time here in D.C., working with the other delegates, and speaking with my representatives – I too believe this is possible.
But it is going to be up to all of us. We need to keep survivorship issues in the forefront of our government officials. It is up to us this Fall to elect officials that are in support of cancer survivorship issues, and in support of further government funding for research.
There is almost no one who hasn’t been touched by cancer. Whether it was a personal experience, a family member, or a close friend, cancer has become a part of all of our lives. Working together, we can make a difference. We can make change. We can make cancer a non-issue by 2015!
Don’t forget to wear yellow today, and LiveSTRONG!
p.s.: I’m in the first row, standing right behind Lance Armstrong.