Last month I had the honor of representing Vermont on Capitol Hill. Along with roughly 600 of my fellow American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteers from across the county, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge lawmakers to make cancer a national priority. As someone who has lost family members and friends to cancer, I am using my voice to call on Congress to prioritize investments in cancer research.
With over 18 million cancer survivors alive today, we know that past investments in cancer research have made a real difference. Today, however, those investments are at serious risk. This was my fourth trip to Capitol Hill, and we have always stated that without adequate funding we are at risk of losing researchers. This year, we learned that we aren’t just at risk anymore. We heard from a young researcher that some researchers are closing labs due to lack of funding, while others are not even opening labs in the first place due to the challenges in securing and maintaining funding. Another source remarked on a recent PhD recipient choosing to forego research altogether and write policy because of the funding challenges.
This is not okay. If increases in research funding are not provided, we may lose the advances in treatment and diagnosis that have created those 18 million survivors.
I met with staff from the offices of Senator Peter Welch, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Representative Becca Balint. I shared the stories of these researchers, as well as my own story of losing loved ones. I explained that the threat of missing out on medical advancements in cancer is real and is happening.
Congress must act now. By increasing medical research funding through the National Institutes of Health we can continue to make progress in the fight against cancer.
Melissa Cox, Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, West Rutland