More than 700 cancer patients, survivors, volunteers and staff gathered in Washington, D.C., this month as part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Lobby Day.

Advocates urged Congress to take steps to make cancer a national priority and help end a disease that kills more than 1,650 people a day in this country.

Barbara Burd, a breast cancer survivor and ACS CAN volunteer from Wilmington, met with Sen. Tom Carper and staff representing Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester to ask for support in three key areas in the cancer fight. They discussed the need to support an increase in federal funding for cancer research. She also encouraged them to advance legislation that works to improve patients’ quality of life and to support legislation that would close a loophole in Medicare that can result in surprise costs for seniors when a polyp is found during a routine colonoscopy.

Burd and her fellow volunteers asked their members of Congress to increase funding for research at the National Institutes of Health to $36 billion; support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act, which will greatly improve the quality of life for cancer patients; and support the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act.

In addition, ACS CAN volunteers thanked members of Congress who voted to protect their continued access to adequate and affordable health insurance during Congress’ seven-month deliberation of health reform. ACS CAN opposed repeal and replace legislation that would have allowed discrimination of against cancer patients and survivors for their pre-existing condition and would have resulted in millions of Americans losing their coverage.

Before meeting with their legislators, cancer advocates attended training sessions on communicating with elected officials, conducting grassroots activities in their communities and engaging the media.

The ACS CAN Lobby Day culminated with an evening Lights of Hope ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial featuring more than 25,000 lights in honor of a cancer survivor or to

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