Breast cancer does not discriminate — not based on age, not based on gender, and certainly not based on political affiliation. From both my personal connections to cancer and the stories I hear from constituents who I meet with, it is clear that we must do more.
For those individuals gracious enough to share their breast cancer experiences with me, our conversations only solidified the importance of finding a cure. For example, a member of my staff beat cancer at age 23 in part because she was able to detect the cancer quickly, and immediately begin treatment. She learned of her diagnosis at age 22, during her first year working after college, and at a time where many young adults aren’t even aware of the possibility that, at such a young age, they can still be at risk for many cancers. Stories like hers constantly motivate me to do all I can to not only find a cure, but to increase awareness of early detection, and improve the opportunities for early diagnoses.
Though we have seen tremendous progress in early detection and treatment with breast cancer patients, we can’t ignore the unprecedented, unique challenges the coronavirus pandemic brought in treating cancer. When the pandemic first hit our nation, Congress asked hospitals and providers to do more with less. The speed at which the biomedical community reacted to these changes was incredibly impressive. Although our efforts in Congress, including the CARES Act, supported hospitals and providers with billions of dollars to help them continue operating and treating members of our communities, many people still found it difficult to safely visit a hospital for lifesaving exams, such as a mammograms and screenings, which tragically led to delays in diagnoses. It is important for folks to know that health care providers are taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure that their patients are safe, and they should feel comfortable to make plans for necessary, preventative treatment with their doctors.
For those breast cancer patients currently receiving treatment, the pandemic also required them to take extra precautions in their day-to-day activities, adding to their already difficult fight. Especially at the onset of the pandemic, it affected nearly every aspect of their lives, sometimes even hindering their ability to work, and undoubtedly putting more pressure on them to stay home and stay safe whenever possible. Treatments and in person follow-ups were even delayed if a patient tested positive for COVID-19. That is why it’s important that we all do our part to stop the spread: wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, and get a flu shot. We owe it to our neighbors and friends, especially those who are undergoing treatment or are otherwise considered at-risk.
Moving forward, I’m confident that Congress will renew its commitment to public health and biomedical research, not just to prevent future pandemics, but to achieve our common goal: end cancer. That’s why I proudly serve as a member of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Deadliest Cancers. I also co-chair the Biomedical Research Caucus. Both of these groups advocate for, among other initiatives, funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in order to support research efforts that spur technological advances and work towards cures.
Funding the NIH is critical because their work is some of our best hope for improving treatments and gaining a better understanding of diseases that affect many Americans. Investing in medical research can literally save lives, and I’ll continue to advocate for science and cures for people like my staffer, and all those who have lost a friend or family member to cancer.
To constituents wanting to share their experience or raise awareness on the importance of research and funding, I encourage you to call my office. One of the best ways for Members of Congress to gain a deeper understanding of your needs and to get patients better support, is to hear directly from you. If you have questions or comments regarding legislation, or investments in cancer research, please contact my Hilliard office at (614) 771-4968.