Sparta resident travels to Washington D.C. to urge Congress to make cancer a top priority

By | September 30, 2016 11:28 am

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteers from Tennessee, Sophia Conerly, Misty Oblak, Christie Jarvis, Diana Diaz, Michelle Hankes, Bea O’Roark, Sarah Roach,and Jamelia Jones stop for a quick picture before walking to Capitol Hill, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, to urge their elected officials to make cancer a national priority

As part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, more than 600 advocates from every state traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask Congress to support critical policies proven to reduce suffering and death from cancer. Among the ACS CAN volunteers was Bea O’Roark, of Sparta, who urged her members of Congress to support legislation that would increase cancer research funding, improve patient quality of life and increase access to colorectal cancer screenings for seniors. Congressional support for these policies can help make cancer a national priority and help end a disease that still kills more than 1,600 people each day in this country.

“As a volunteer, I know just how important the legislation we’re asking our members of Congress to support is to not only cancer patients, survivors and their families but those who may be diagnosed in the future,” said O’Roark. “I explained to my lawmakers that they have an opportunity to improve the health of our entire nation and save thousands of lives.”

In addition, O’Roark urged lawmakers to advance bipartisan legislation to increase access to palliative care. This new type of specialized medical care increasing in popularity focuses on addressing the pain, stress and other symptoms that can accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Palliative care is important for patients of any age and at any stage of a chronic illness to help improve the patient’s quality of life.

Advocates also expressed their concerns about access to colorectal cancer screenings for seniors on Medicare. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, but half of these deaths can be prevented if people over the age of 50 get recommended screenings. By supporting legislation to remove unfair cost barriers in place for seniors on Medicare currently limiting their access to these lifesaving screenings, Congress can save lives.

The ACS CAN Lobby Day culminated with an evening Lights of Hope ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool, featuring more than 24,000 lights lit in honor of a cancer survivor or to memorialize a loved one who lost his or her life to the disease.

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