Patsy Romero, a Bakersfield cancer survivor, joined 700 others in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to meet with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and advocate for more robust cancer research funding and legislation related to care.
The trip was part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. While there, Romero was part of a small group of advocates who sat down with McCarthy to ask for support on three pieces of legislation.
One piece of legislation would remove barriers to colorectal cancer screenings by eliminating co-pays for one of the most common forms of cancer. Another involves palliative care and hospice education, and would bring a team of clinicians and specialists to cancer patients from the moment they’re diagnosed until they become survivors.
But what cancer advocates say is the most critical would be pressuring Congress to increase funding for research at the National Institutes of Health to $36 billion to make up for a funding gap that took place during the recession.
“I started volunteering 27 years ago. Breast cancer that was caught early was 80 percent curable. Today its 98 percent curable,” Romero said. “That’s because of everything we’re doing. It doesn’t just happen — it’s because of research.”