Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rockin' the Hill!

I arrived home late last night from my DC trip...and it was AWESOME. The LIVESTRONG Army was there in full force yellow, and we were unstoppable! At our training day we were named Generals in the LIVESTRONG Army since we are the driving force of the advocacy effort. When Doug Ulman (President of LAF) was introducing Lance at our Tuesday training he said, "Since you are all the Generals, that makes Lance, well whatever is above that." Feeling that Lance needed an official military title (and thanks to Ian infusing military into my blood), I shouted "He's the Commandant!" So the LIVESTRONG Army has been commissioned with 200 Generals and our fearless Commandant.

There were 2 advocates from NC, the other is a resident physician at Wake Forest (Jason). We worked together very well and had a fantastic tag-team approach to our meetings. We also went to each other's meeting for our House Representatives, which we both felt added to the effectiveness of our asks:
1) when considering funding for the Labor/Health and Human Services Appropriations bill, we encourage you to support a 6.7% increase for important research at NIH and NCI, as well as a $136.6 million increase in funding for critical cancer programs at the CDC .
2) to co-sponsor the Cancer Screening, Treatment and Survivorship Act of 2007.

Jason and I started the day off with his representative and her legislative aide, a meeting that set the tone for the rest of the day. Congresswoman Foxx was very supportive of our asks and stated that she would try to support the increases as long as they are not in the same legislation as other issues that she cannot support. She shared that she wished they could vote on each piece separately, but that's not how it works. I shared my story with Congresswoman Foxx, who in turn shared a story of her friend who lives in Chapel Hill and is treated for thyroid cancer at UNC-Chapel Hill...personal connection!

Next we met with each of our Senator's aides...both who shared a personal connection to cancer. Not in their immediate family or friends, but aunts or uncles who had cancer years ago before they were even born. Senator Burr's aide was very receptive and said that the Senator likes to try to support increases in funding if able; and that she would investigate further of his co-sponsoring the Senate version of the above mentioned act. Senator Dole's aide shared that she was knowledgeable of the Gardasil vaccine and how fantastic it is, but there are families who cannot afford it because insurance won't cover it (it's $130 a shot, and you need 2 shots)...which worked right into our asking of co-sponsoring the above mentioned act. Both of these meetings were fantastic and we felt we likely won support for our asks.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation held a press event in the early afternoon yesterday. There were several speakers, but the one of interest to me was Congresswoman Sue Myrick from NC. She is a breast cancer survivor and one of the sponsors of the Cancer Screening, Treatment and Survivorship Act of 2007. Jason and I were doing our best with our meetings to let it known that we want North Carolina to be at the front of supporting this act: we have 3 incredible cancer treatment and research centers (UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest) and Congresswoman Myrick as a sponsor of the act. After the press event concluded, Jason and I spoke with the Congresswoman and told her about our desire for NC to be so involved in this...of course she agreed that would be great!

The North Carolina force ended our day in my Representative's office, Congressman Walter Jones. He was unavailable due to votes going on but we had his legislative aide's undivided attention for about 45 minutes. She was so fantastic and shared that the Congressman has been voting yes for much of the recent health legislation...awesome news for our side! If Cybil wasn't on our side at the beginning of the meeting, she was definitely at the end...I practically feel she signed the recruiting papers on the line to join the LIVESTRONG Army. Congressman Jones is usually very fiscally conservative and has recently been speaking out against the war, but is being cautious about what he says (very smart since he has lots of military constituents!). I am hoping that he will be shifting to health issues, and after speaking with Cybil that seems to be a possibility. Score 4 for our side!

I am hoping after following up with the offices I will have even better news to report!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you made lots of good contacts! Did you get a big charge out of being on the Hill again?


Mommavia said...

I did get a charge...a big one! I am ready to get out to CA and go full force there too! I'll still be following up with my NC people until, well until I stop I guess!

Hunca Munca said...

So, as a General do you outrank Ian now? :-)

Good and important work you are doing. You should be proud.

genderist said...

I can't wait to hear how the follow-up calls go!

Mommavia said...

I always outrank Ian, but now it's official ;-)