Out in the Lobby

Millions in the cancer community are working to increase research funding or change policy.
BY ANDREW SMITH
PUBLISHED: JUNE 18, 2015
ACS CAN makes an annual show of its support by bringing hundreds of survivors, family members and volunteers to Washington each September for Lobby Day. Supporters from virtually every congressional district flood the Capitol in matching blue shirts for meetings with hundreds of elected officials.

Such events draw national attention, but the vast majority of cancer-policy advocacy plays out in a series of smaller, less visible efforts — like the work Blough did to help convince the West Virginia state legislature to ban access to tanning beds to children under 14.

She considers that a victory, but says she won’t stop pushing for safeguards until the age limit is raised even higher.

To be in sync with some other states that have banned children from using tanning beds, “We wanted the age limit to be 18, but it’s a start, and we’ll keep on trying,” says Blough, who believes in the power of persistence. “We didn’t win the first time we tried to get our board of health to ban workplace smoking. We told them that we’d keep coming back ’til we got the votes, and we did.”

One of Blough’s most important jobs is recruiting new volunteers, and one of her best finds is her husband, Brooke, who now coordinates volunteer activities throughout their county.

“I figured that the only way I’d ever see much of her was to sign up for the organization,” he joked. “Actually, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We have seen so many positive developments in the last few years, some that make the news but many that never do, and it’s very rewarding to be a part of that.”

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