2017 has been a time of unprecedented change in DC. While the debate about healthcare has remained top of mind, there have been questions we have fielded regarding proposed cuts to research funding and the future of such crucial legislation as the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. While we continue to work tirelessly to fund brain tumor research and advocate on Capitol Hill for increased attention to the needs of you, our community, we can’t do it alone.
May 8th and 9th, will be my fourth time attending Head to the Hill as a member of the NBTS staff. Over the last three years, I’ve watched the number of advocates grow each year as brain tumor survivors, caregivers, and loved ones descend on DC to speak with their elected officials about the changes that need to occur in order to catalyze more research, improve the lives of those diagnosed, and find new treatments that will allow our friends and family to reclaim parts of them they fear will be lost. We do so not only to benefit those living with a brain tumor, but those yet to be diagnosed.
However, what I’ve noted in my own interactions of late, is, perhaps, a sense of trepidation toward this type of engagement and advocacy. Some people seem unsure if their voices will be heard, others may have an emotional burnout not only from the disease, but from the last election. What I want to remind you of is that standing together makes all the difference when Congress makes decisions on medical research funding.
Because of your support, Congress provided the biggest single-year increase in federal medical research funding in 12 years in its Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Because of your support, the 21st Century Cures Act became law. Because of your support, the most comprehensive bill ever to address pediatric cancer, including pediatric brain tumors, was brought to the brink of passing in 2016, and then quickly re-introduced in 2017.
Your calls, visits, and letters were what turned the tide and gave that act the bipartisan support it needed to pass a deeply divided Congress. Your stories swayed votes and your drive affects change. And it still does.
That’s why we want you with us at Head to the Hill.
Head to the Hill really brings advocates from every state together in our nation’s capital, and for two days (three if you come into town early for the Race for Hope) we meet, get to know each other, and learn how to use our own Constitutional rights to advocate for one another. It’s really the community at our best – informed, passionate, and hungry for life. After our training day, we go to the congressional offices and stress the importance and universality of our shared cause to our elected officials. And it works, which is why we need you.
Below is a map of the United States. Currently, the states in white have no advocates registered. Let’s change that. Call your friends and family if they’re in those states and invite them to come along with us. Let’s make this largest Head to the Hill yet.
NBTS is non-partisan, because brain tumors really don’t care who you voted for, or what you political beliefs you hold. We are in this together, and together we can stop this disease.