I recently wrote to my state Congressmen and Senators in an effort to make Cancer a state and national priority. I used a generic template the LAF provides to users. The topics:
- Cancer Survivor Funding
- Cancer Survivorship and Quality of Life Act (HR 5390)
- Cancer Survivor Fertility Issues (S. Res 331 or H. Con. Res. 174)
This morning I pleasantly surprised to see an email from NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg on topic #1 Cancer Survivor Funding. As you can imagine it was as generic as the letter I sent in, but what stood out to me is the fact the Senator did not even mention Cancer once in the response (see below)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 5:31 PMTo: firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: Responding to your message
Dear Brian :
Thank you for contacting me about the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education (S. 3708). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
This extensive and extremely important spending bill provides funding for three major federal departments and fourteen related agencies, including the Social Security Administration. The appropriations included in this legislation are also used to fund a variety of important domestic programs, including the Workforce Investment Act, student aide initiatives, medical research programs, and much more.
The President's budget proposal for FY 2007 included $138.3 billion in discretionary spending for Labor, HHS, and Education, a 6 ercent decrease from last year's funding level. During consideration of the FY 2007 budget, the Senate passed an amendment, which I voted for, to restore $7 billion in funding for programs at the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. On July 20 th , 2006, the Senate Appropriations reported its version of the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, which includes just under $5 billion more than the administration's request. In response, I joined several of my Senate colleagues and signed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging them to ensure that the additional $2 billion in funding be restored in the final legislation. Please be assured that I support the higher spending level originally agreed to by the Senate and will continue to fight for adequate funding as this legislation comes before the full Senate.
Thank you again for writing.
My email to him specifically stressed Cancer as you can see below. I even had it in the subject!
Subject: The fight against cancer shouldn't wait
As a cancer survivorship advocate, I am extremely disappointed that Congress still has not approved sufficient funding for the Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill. More than 73 Senators voted for an amendment to provide an additional $7 billion for critical health and education programs and the House Leadership made a public commitment to do the same. But when these bills went through committee, they were shortchanged by more than $2 billion in the Senate and almost $3 billion in the House. As a result, critical cancer research, early detection, and other programs are in danger of being severely under funded.
This situation is unacceptable. As health care costs are continuing to skyrocket, we must increase our investment in programs that prevent disease and disability, promote wellness, and improve health quality and quality of life. We must fully fund National Cancer Institute (NCI) research ($241 million increase over FY 2006) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cancer programs ($120 million over FY 2006) this year. Failure to provide the funding increases will only result is us falling further behind in the fight against cancer.
Now that Congress has returned following the November elections, I urge you to oppose any Labor HHS and Education Appropriations bill that falls short of the promised $7 billion and lacks appropriate funding for cancer research and programs.
This type of response makes it clear I will need to write a more formal and personal letter to ensure they understand how important cancer funding is to all survivors. Though I am not shocked to see a generic response, I am shocked that they did not even take the time to add the word Cancer into email.
If our state and national elected officials are not taking cancer seriously it is up to the cancer survivors and caregivers to keep pushing the issue and ensure it does not go away. We have a long road ahead and I will ensure I do my part.