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Advocacy in Action

Cancer action organizations help advocates work with Congress and government agencies to affect legislation.

BY Jane Hill
PUBLISHED March 08, 2014

People who are interested in influencing public policy on the national level by, say, increasing access to cancer screening or renewing funding for clinical trials—will discover that advocacy has never been easier.

Professionals on staff at cancer action organizations work closely with Congress and government agencies to make sure they hear the interests of people affected by cancer. They also make sure that individuals who care about those issues can access current and accurate information on the Internet and join the legion of effective armchair advocates.

Sites such as LungCancerAlliance.org or acscan.org (the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network) have advocacy links to fact sheets, talking points or the latest status of bills in Congress. Sometimes, there is a convenient link for emailing legislators directly. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, which promotes policy change on the federal level to ensure quality cancer care, offers these tips for phoning elected officials or writing a letter to the editor.

> When calling an elected official, advocates should prepare their remarks in advance and be ready to speak to a legislative aide. They should identify themselves as a constituent. They should mention the issue or bill number specifically and state clearly what they want the legislator to do. Advocates should be positive and courteous and leave their name and contact information, asking that the legislator follow up with a letter that states his or her position on the issue.

> Letters to the editor not only educate the community about an issue, but also enlighten legislators who read hometown papers in order to find out what’s on the minds of their constituents. Advocates should follow their newspaper’s guidelines for letters. They should be clear, concise and on topic, stating the problem and why they are concerned. Advocates should include their personal story and provide details that make it real for the reader, avoiding hyperbole, exaggeration or inflammatory language. (Source: CancerAdvocacy.org)

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