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Cancer survivors flood Capitol Hill to lobby for research funding

Nearly 700 people are advocating for lawmakers to support legislation that would increase access to cancer screenings.
Cancer survivors flood Capitol Hill to lobby for research funding
Posted at 12:09 PM, Sep 22, 2023

Once a year for the last 10 years, Sabrina Wright-Hobart has flown from Colorado to Washington, D.C., to advocate for something very personal. 

“In 2006, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was 37 years old," she told Scripps News. "Then in 2020, I was diagnosed with a recurrence."

Wright-Hobart is currently living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, but thanks to new and effective treatments, she has no evidence of active disease. 

"I will be monitored for the rest of my life and on medicine for the rest of my life," she explained. "Once cancer spreads from the original site, it’s stage 4 forever, whether you have active disease or not."

She was one of nearly 700 advocates to flood Capitol Hill and lobby lawmakers to support legislation that would increase access to cancer screenings. 

SEE MORE: Early-onset cancer cases up nearly 80% in past 30 years, report finds

In a meeting with a legislative aide for Wright-Hobart's congressman, Rep. Jason Crow, she said one of the bills they’re advocating for is HR 2407, or the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act.

“If I would have had access to this screening in between my diagnoses, it would have been caught before it was stage 4,” Wright-Hobart said.

But the biggest ask this year was more research funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. 

“The 200 diseases known as cancer collectively represent a leading cause of death and suffering and will claim the lives of more than 600,000 Americans this year,” said Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “We need Congress to do everything possible to prioritize policies that will reduce the cancer burden, starting with providing sustained and significant increases in federal cancer research funding. It is clear that cancer research saves lives, and that the return on scientific investment is accelerated progress and improved outcomes.” 

That funding would help support President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, which aims to reduce cancer deaths by 50% over the next 25 years. 

SEE MORE: Nationwide cancer drug shortage may be putting some patients at risk

“We've made a lot of progress. We've delivered new programs and resources to increase cancer screening across all 50 states, reaching local organizations with funding from CDC to make sure that people can get the cancer screenings that will help detect cancer early when it's most treatable,” said Danielle Carnival, the deputy assistant to the president for the Cancer Moonshot. 

In past years, the lobbying day, organized by the ACS CAN, has helped push critical bills across the finish line — bills like the Affordable Care Act, which ensures health care coverage for people like Wright-Hobart.

“Because of the ACA, I do have health insurance and I'm able to access my treatments and honestly feel like I'm gonna live another 20 years and die from something other than breast cancer,” said Wright-Hobart. 

She said her meetings during this year’s trip were amazing, and she has plans to loop back with lawmakers to secure their support for cancer-related legislation. 


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