My trip to the White House to advocate for myself and other patients with cancer was an empowering and memorable experience.
By Anjee Davis, President of Fight Colorectal Cancer
When I graduated from grad school, I took a job at a rural cancer center managing a local clinical trials program.
In all honesty, I had zero health care background, but I could read contracts. The role that started with contracting evolved into managing recruitment efforts directly with patients. My office was right across the hall from the infusion room. I loved everything about that position.
Twenty years later, I am still inspired and encouraged working with patients with cancer. Leading Fight Colorectal Cancer’s (Fight CRC) efforts in prevention, treatment and empowering patients and their families, I still have days where I feel like I am right across the hall from the infusion room again. I continue to hear stories and share the challenges we face when cancer enters our lives.
Then in 2020, I was diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer.
My diagnosis allowed me to have my own experience with cancer — from my initial diagnosis to the surgeries and side effects that followed. I felt everything I saw families experience facing colorectal cancer. It was an unrelenting fight, but there was always hope.
And fortunately, today I am cancer free.
Two years after my diagnosis, I was invited to the White House to be a part of a forum to discuss President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot efforts. From that rural clinic to colorectal cancer patient advocate to survivor, the White House invitation was a grounding moment. I read the invitation five times before believing it was real.
I wasn’t only advocating for patients with cancer. I was advocating as a patient with cancer. The gravity of the moment, flying to D.C., and sitting in the White House alongside patients, caregivers, researchers and public health leadership gave me a sense of patriotism.
I was really there, at the White House, to create and inform lasting change in our country for the cancer patient community.
Reflecting on my own experience and the stories of hundreds of patients with colorectal cancer, we have a tremendous opportunity with this administration’s reboot of the Cancer Moonshot Program. This is a declaration that we are in this fight against cancer together. Together, we are rolling up our sleeves to focus on bold and innovative efforts to tackle cancer screening and early detection, reaching medically underserved communities, and diving into the data to drive us: It felt like being a part of a history book.
The White House experiences meant so much personally and professionally.
Ultimately, every day, brave patients and families are making a difference and advocating for lifesaving efforts to fix health care in our country and to fund breakthrough research. We are not fighting for small, incremental improvements. Our charge — my charge — is to be unrelenting, as unrelenting as cancer was in my life, and to dream audaciously for a cure. That is my Cancer Moonshot.
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