Visalia local journeys to D.C. for cancer funding advocacy

Dr. Cha See returns from Washington D.C. after meeting with lawmakers and asking Congress for more cancer research funding

VISALIA –  Hundreds of volunteers, including a local Visalia man, trekked to the U.S. Capitol to ask for research funding and diversity in clinical trials.

On Sept. 13, roughly 600 volunteers from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) went to Washington D.C. to advocate for cancer research funding. Among them was Visalia local Dr. Cha See, who was part of the first advocacy group to meet with lawmakers in-person since the pandemic. At the capitol, See and other volunteers advocated for billions in research funding, the sponsorship of the DIVERSE Trials Act and the advancement of the Multi Cancer Early Detection Screening Act.

“I am volunteering with ACS CAN because cancer affects all of us. Cancer incidence has also increased in my Lahu community in Tulare County within the past several years,” See said. “It’s important for me and for all of us to protect our communities through health advocacy.”

See has been involved with ACS CAN since 2019, but has always had a passion for health and health promotion. See was able to meet with representative Kevin McCarthy to request the funding, and was able to meet with the offices of David Valedeo and Connie Conway as well.

See and the volunteers advocated for $49 million in increased funding for National Institutes of Health, in addition to $7.7 billion for the National Cancer Institute, according to a press release from ACS CAN. They also asked for $462.6 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $225 million for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, all which would use the funds to develop new testing methods for early cancer detection. 

“At these funding levels, we can continue to invest in new cures and treatments so more people can live longer and better lives despite their diagnosis,” See said. “Research can also help us find evidence of ways to prevent or detect cancer early, and save many lives.”

The volunteers also advocated for the DIVERSE Trials Act and the Multi Cancer Early Detection Screening Act. The DIVERSE Trials Act would reimburse ancillary costs of clinical trial participants, with the hopes that the funding will increase participation with those who are marginalized or affected by geographic barriers. The Multi Cancer Early Detection Screening Act would allow Medicare coverage for multi-cancer early detection tests.

Roughly 1 in 3 Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime, and approximately 1,670 people die daily from the disease, according to the ACS CAN website. Being able to find more ways to detect cancer early is a matter of “life and death,” ACS CAN stated on the website.

ACS CAN is funded through donors, not by the U.S. government. They strive to not only research cancer themselves, but to also fund research from outside sources. Currently, they receive roughly 1,000 new research grant applications every year, but they are only able to fund 10 to 15% of these applicants. 

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