This week, I was honored to be an invited speaker at an advocacy day on Capitol Hill organized by the non-profit group, Fight Colorectal Cancer. Their “Call on Congress” brings colorectal cancer survivors along with their friends and family members to Capitol Hill to visit Congressional leaders.
The College partners with Fight Colorectal Cancer to support their mission to raise awareness of CRC prevention and promote policy change to make colorectal cancer screening more accessible.
The first thing I noticed was the incredible energy and passion that the group possesses.
The most powerful part of the day for me was to witness the efforts of the CRC survivors who are the true agents of change when it comes to assuring that colorectal cancer is in the spotlight with regard to awareness and healthcare policy.
At the briefing session, the advocates heard from multiple Members of Congress including Representative Betty McCollum from Minnesota; Representative Mike Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania; Representative Leonard Lance from New Jersey; Representative Donald J. Payne, Jr. from New Jersey; and Representative Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania.
Each of the congressional leaders who spoke to the group had a personal connection to colorectal cancer, either being a survivor or having family members affected by the disease. They are true champions when it comes to assuring that the goals of colorectal cancer survivors come to fruition.
On a personal note, I was honored to be able to meet with Senator William Cassidy from Louisiana who is a gastroenterologist, an ACG member and a great supporter of initiatives designed to assure that colorectal cancer screening rates continue to increase in the United States so that the goal of screening 80 percent of the U.S. population by 2018 is reached.
We also discussed the importance of assuring the adequate resources are available in Louisiana, my adopted home state, which has one of the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates in nation. I was fortunate enough to meet with Senate staffer Arne Owens, the health care policy advisor for Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. I was grateful for the great attention that Mr. Owens showed to the issues that were raised.
While the meetings with the Senator and a key aide gave me great insight into how Congress works, the most powerful part of the day for me was to witness the efforts of the CRC survivors who are the true agents of change when it comes to assuring that colorectal cancer is in the spotlight with regard to awareness and healthcare policy.
Jordan Karlitz, MD, FACG
Chair, ACG Public Relations Committee
Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA