A Sensational Six Months for Childhood Cancer Advocacy

by Kevin Mathis, Sr. Legislative Counsel, St. Baldrick’s Foundation
February 19, 2015

It has been a tremendously exciting time for childhood cancer in Washington, D.C.

Speak Up for Kids' Cancer on Capitol Hill

St. Baldrick’s has been at work with our colleagues in the cancer community to make the case for increased funding and attention for childhood cancer. Happily, our cause has received a lot of positive, high-profile attention on Capitol Hill and at the White House in the past several months.

Here are the highlights:

In September, St. Baldrick’s was invited join in with other cancer organizations at the White House to meet with leaders to discuss childhood cancer.

In October, St. Baldrick’s sat down with National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Harold Varmus to press him to make childhood cancer a higher priority at the NCI. In a very positive move, when Dr. Varmus sent his Professional Judgment Budget to Congress — setting out how much funding he recommended for overall cancer research — he included a three-page section outlining an ambitious agenda for childhood cancer. You can see it for yourself here.

What I Wish I Knew About Childhood Cancer

In November, St. Baldrick’s continued its work in conjunction with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and the Coalition for Childhood Cancer to reach consensus across the entire childhood cancer community on our top advocacy priorities for the coming year. This comprehensive process has taken several months, but we are optimistic that within a few weeks we will have our first community-wide consensus on strategy that we can all press forward with Congress.

In December, our own Danielle Leach testified before the Senate Cancer Coalition on Capitol Hill alongside NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus, setting out priorities for funding in the coming year.

Read Danielle’s testimony to the Senate Cancer Coalition >

In January, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced legislation to allow for considerably more funding for medical research at the NIH. She specifically highlighted the need for a much larger investment in childhood cancer research.

As you can see, there is a lot of really exciting discussion on childhood cancer in Washington. But the key thing to remember is that at the end of the day, none of this matters unless Congress and the President decide to actually provide the money necessary to make it all happen.

The annual appropriations process has just begun. It started when the President sent his recommended budget to Congress on February 2 and will end with the passage of the annual appropriations bills in the fall.

In the coming months, we will be reaching out to you for help.

It is essential that Congress hears from all of us — loud and clear — that funding for childhood cancer is essential. With your help, we can make Congress understand and get the money we need for better treatments, and cures, for childhood cancer.

We can’t make this case without you. So get ready, spread the message and let your voice be heard. Join our advocacy network, Speak Up for Kids’ Cancer.

Speak Up

Read more about advocacy on the St. Baldrick’s blog: