By Representative Lois Capps (CA)
I pen this post with a great sense of optimism for what we, as a nation, can achieve in our fight against cancer. As co-Chair of the House Cancer Caucus I have seen the evolving impact of cancer on our nation over the years. Today lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women—claiming far too many lives in each community, neighborhood, and family—including my own. In the spirit of solidarity and with a great sense of purpose, I joined my colleagues Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) in establishing the Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus last year to bring particular attention to the disease.
It is our mission as a bipartisan caucus to serve as a clearinghouse of information for our colleagues on Capitol Hill as they seek to understand the issues surrounding those who are living with and those who are at risk for lung cancer. We aim to eliminate the stigma often associated with lung cancer and highlight the many populations who are at increased risk for this diagnosis, including service members and veterans. And we seek to draw attention to the importance of lung cancer research, screening, and treatments to improve survivorship.
We are at a crossroads in our nation’s fight against cancer. The President’s “Moonshot to End Cancer” includes unprecedented levels of funding to promote advancement in cancer research and therapeutic development. This builds on the progress that dedicated lawmakers have made over the years to advocate for funding to cure all types of cancer. For years, my fellow co-chairs and I have been working to ease the struggles that cancer patients and their families face during the treatment process. In 2007, the House passed my resolution that called on the President to declare lung cancer a public health priority and encourage greater investment in research. And my bipartisan bill, the Planning Actively for Cancer Treatment (PACT) Act, continues to gain the support of providers and advocates across the country who support this effort to fill many of the gaps in cancer care by helping patients access a written treatment roadmap, developed in consultation with their health care providers, to encourage coordinated cancer care and symptom management.
Combating lung cancer requires us as a nation to use all the tools in our arsenal. It requires us as members of Congress to help the scientific community build on the strides they have made so far by ensuring they have the resources to continue making progress. It requires us to strengthen the cancer care system by providing support for cancer patients and their families as they navigate their care. And it requires treatments to be affordable and accessible. Countless families are relying on us, and it is my belief that by working together, we can change the fate of individuals diagnosed with this devastating disease.
Join me and my fellow co-chairs of the Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus for an educational briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, March 2 to discuss the impact of stigma on public health policy. Learn more here.