Today I am honored to have a guest columnist share her views on PAC2 and the childhood cancer world. I am pleased to introduce Kate Shafer, the director of Public Advocacy for CureSearch. CureSearch is the nation's largest childhood cancer organization, uniting the efforts of the Children's Oncology Group and the National Childhood Cancer Foundation with a mission to cure childhood cancer. Kate's note follows.......

I would like to commend People Against Childhood Cancer for stepping up to the plate and providing a forum for everyone in the childhood cancer community to pull together and speak as "one voice united against childhood cancer". By uniting the efforts of individuals and others, and using the tremendous energy within PAC2, I believe your mission to raise awareness of childhood cancer will be successful!

I also sense a new and great momentum nationwide, to make the public stand up and take notice of childhood cancer, more urgency than I have ever experienced in more than 20 years of personal and professional involvement with children with cancer and their families. Perhaps this is because of the internet, which makes instant access and communication possible, or a maybe the crescendo of frustration has finally reached the tipping point …but whatever compels each of you to work together at PAC2, please know that I believe we are on the brink of accomplishing something great; reaching the day when every child diagnosed with cancer can be guaranteed a cure.

For those of you who do not already know me, I am the Director of Advocacy at CureSearch. I am a social worker by training and had the privilege of working “at the bedside” in pediatric oncology for most of my career, directly serving children with cancer and their families.

A little more than five years ago, I started working at CureSearch in order to take more of a “big picture” approach, to address the woeful underfunding of pediatric cancer research. My role at CureSearch is to elevate childhood cancer to a national public policy priority and secure federal funding to support research.

We have experienced some success in this, achieving more than $11 million dollars in federal appropriations since 2003, and this year achieving passage of the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act which was signed into law by President Bush this past July.

This bill is the first ever legislation related to childhood cancer research funding, and while it does not directly provide funds, it authorizes Congress to spend $30 million per year for five years to support pediatric cancer research. (For a legislative summary of the recently-completed 110th Congress, please visit CureSearch.org and click on the “Updates from Capitol Hill” link on the Home Page)

The continuing challenge as a new Congress and new President take office in January will be make sure we get the money…to do the research…to find more cures. I need your help to do this.

These legislative successes are not possible without the involvement of a committed grassroots effort. Many of you are already part of the CureSearch Childhood Cancer Advocacy Network, an online group of more than 7500 childhood cancer advocates, parents, patients, survivors, and health professionals who have written more than 50,000 letters over the years, made phone calls and come to Washington to meet with members of Congress during CureSearch’s annual Reach the Day event.

For those of you who are not members of our Advocacy Network, I encourage you to join, as this is the best avenue for you to be informed about legislation that impacts childhood cancer as well as how you can help. It gives me the ability to contact individuals within any given Congressional District with a specific call to action, provides regular updates on what’s happening in Congress and keeps you informed about activities and events at CureSearch through our E-newsletter. Please join the Childhood Cancer Advocacy Network at CureSearch.org/join.

Again, thank you to AJ’s Dad, and to YOU, for all that you are doing. Working together, we are louder and stronger. We will not be denied!

Kate Shafer
Director of Advocacy
CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation

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