OVAC is a coalition of over 50 nonprofit cancer organizations that advocate on behalf of cancer patients to deliver a unified message to Congress and to the White House on the need for increased cancer-related appropriations. The LRG is a member of OVAC.

Teena PetersohnI was honored to once again attend the One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) meeting during the Annual Lobby Day in Washington, D. C. on May 13th & 14th. This was my 4th year attending, and each time it has been a very rewarding experience.

There were over 100 people in attendance representing 32 states. We were a mixture of patients, caregivers, survivors, health care professionals and researchers, all who, one way or another have been touched by cancer and feel the need to speak out.

We spent Monday afternoon being prepared to meet with our Congressional representatives. Although it can seem overwhelming, it is really a very simple procedure. You first introduce yourself and tell where you are from so that the Senators know, and the Representative knows you are from their district.

You then relay your personal reason as to why you are there, and then make your “ask.” We were told that our personal stories make a bigger impression on them than the actual amount we are asking for.

OVAC Lobby Day LetterAlthough I am not there to specifically lobby for #GISTresearch, the story of my GIST journey is a very powerful one that shows them not only how research can be a lifesaver for patients, but also how not all patients respond to current treatments, confirming the need for funding for further investigation. On Tuesday, we made our way to Capitol Hill. Appointments had been prearranged with our own state Senators and the Representatives from each district represented. Sometimes you get to speak directly with the Congressperson, and other times you get to speak with one of their staffers. Either way, it is a great opportunity to convey the message.

The ask this year was for continued funding of NIH, NCI and the CDC for continued research, prevention and better treatment for all cancers.

At this event, I had the opportunity to network with many new people. Some are there year-after-year and you get to renew former friendships.

It continues to be a very humbling experience to represent cancer patients in this important mission.

I flew to DC on May 12th, which was Mother’s Day. As my own mother passed away from stomach cancer, I felt this was a great way to honor her, and my daughters understood this.

Teena is an LRG Member, frequent contributor, and LRG Board Member.

For more on OVAC: www.ovaconline.org

OVAC 2019 Group Photo