Cancer Patients and Survivors Travel to Tallahassee to Urge Legislators to Make Cancer a Priority
Volunteers Met with Florida Lawmakers to Ask for Support for Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Funding, Statewide Quality of Life Advisory Council
Nearly 100 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the state traveled to the state Capitol in Tallahassee on February 19 to meet with Florida lawmakers about the need to increase funding for the state’s breast and cervical cancer early detection program and to seek the creation of a statewide advisory council on quality of life issues.
In Florida, 15,480 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and each year 2,770 lose their battle with the disease. Those gathered at the Capitol called on Florida lawmakers to change this by taking steps to make the fight against breast cancer a priority. The visit was part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Advocacy Day, which brought together cancer survivors and volunteers from across Florida.
“As a physician, I let my lawmakers know that if we’re going to eliminate cancer as a major health problem in Florida, the fight against this disease must be top of mind for our legislature,” said Michael Kasper, M.D., a radiation oncologist. “By making access to mammograms and Pap tests a priority, we could ensure that progress continues to reduce suffering and death from this disease.”
Specifically, the volunteers asked lawmakers to:
• Increase funding for the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program from $1.54 million to $2.4 million for the next fiscal year. The program provides mammograms and Pap tests for women who are underinsured or have no insurance.
• Increase funding for the King Biomedical Research Program and the Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program from $10 million each to $25 million each.
• Establish a statewide advisory council that would advise the Florida Department of Health and the state Surgeon General’s office on issues related to cancer patient quality of life issues.
While in Tallahassee, cancer advocates participated in a rally on the steps of the Historic Capitol building.
“We met with our elected officials as representatives of each individual diagnosed with cancer each day in Florida,” said Maureen Mann, volunteer chair of ACS CAN’s Florida Operating Committee. “Even in this tough economic climate, Florida’s legislature should commit to ensuring every woman has access to mammograms and Pap tests and that quality of life for cancer patients is assured so we can continue to look forward to new successes in fighting the disease.”
The 114,560 cancer diagnoses and 42,740 deaths in Florida can be prevented. Making sure all women have access to necessary early detection screenings, increasing funding for cancer research and creating a quality of life advisory council are effective ways to diminish the death and suffering caused from this disease.