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Fighting back against cancer

Winning the war against this disease is partly a public policy challenge

February 27, 2011
Messenger News

Many of the most important decisions about cancer are made outside of your doctor's office. These decisions are made every day by your state Legislature, in Congress and at the White House - decisions that affect the lives of all of us. Winning the war on cancer is as much of a public policy challenge as it is a scientific and medical challenge.

Interaction with local, state and federal governments is constantly needed to ensure that all Americans have adequate, affordable health insurance, to enact laws proven to reduce tobacco consumption, and to increase funding for cancer research and programs.

The American Cancer Society is working every day to make cancer issues a national priority. The Society's government relations efforts empower regular people to be part of the growing national movement that is fighting back against cancer. The American Cancer Society and its nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), work together to ensure that elected officials across the country make cancer a top national priority. Volunteers and Society staff work with lawmakers at the federal, state and local level to enact policies that can help fight back against cancer and create a world with more birthdays.

Volunteers and staff of the American Cancer Society work with lawmakers at the federal, state, and local level to enact policies that promote cancer prevention and early detection, ensure access to high quality cancer treatment, increase government funding for cancer research, and reduce and prevent suffering from tobacco use.

Thanks to Society volunteers, more than 70 percent of all Americans now live in a smoke-free community. Residents of the Iowa can breathe easy thanks to the thousands of American Cancer Society volunteers who advocated for the right to breathe clean, smoke-free air. In addition, lawmakers have enacted policies to improve access to certain cancer screenings such as mammograms.

However, there is much more to be done. Congress has frozen or cut funding for cancer research and programs for the past five years and millions of Americans are uninsured, with little or no access to life-saving screenings and treatments.

Fact Box

Policy advocacy at a glance

American Cancer Society volunteers and staff have reduced the burden of cancer in Iowa by supporting strong public health policies such as:

Higher tobacco taxes to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit,

Comprehensive smoke-free laws to eliminate exposure to deadly secondhand smoke,

Increased funding for cancer screening programs that detect cancer at its earliest stages and

Health insurance reforms that improve access to quality, affordable care and prevent discrimination against cancer patients.

Thousands of cancer-related bills are introduced each year in the U.S. in the combined federal, state and local governments and lawmakers make many decisions that impact the lives of people touched by cancer. The leadership of our elected officials is vital if we are to win this war. The Society supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network - ACS CAN - allows the voice of the cancer community to be heard. It is a national grassroots movement of people just like you - cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and their families and friends - who are dedicated to changing laws and policies to help people fight cancer.

We are empowering ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results in the fight against this terrible disease. By contributing to ACS CAN, you are helping us make cancer a top national priority. Together, we CAN make cancer history! For more information on becoming a member of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network log onto or call (800) 227-2345.

Another way you can help fight back against cancer is by participating in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Webster County held on June 25 at Dodger Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. To learn more about Relay or to register as a participant log onto:

Craig Schlienz is vice president-loan support at First Federal Savings Bank of Iowa. He is the chairperson for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Webster County. For more information on how you can get involved, contact him at 574-8041.



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