Monday, September 15, 2008

Election time favors (legal ones!) for Elizabeth

I grew up in Washington, D.C. (yes, some real folks actually live there) and the first presidential election I remember being aware of was the Reagan-Mondale one in 1984. I had recently entered 4th grade, the point at which elementary school starts getting “serious,” and was nearing the home stretch of a year of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for rhabdomyosarcoma. Now, 24 years later, I am a long term survivor of childhood cancer, the daughter of two survivors (breast cancer and melanoma), a mom of two amazing little boys and a member of the Ulman Cancer Fund team, working everyday to make sure young adults living with cancer are supported, educated and connected.

This election is monumental in so many ways. Much credit should be given to everyone at the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and its president, Doug Ulman, for bringing this issue to the forefront and demanding on behalf of all 10 million of us cancer survivors that this be addressed (visit LAF website for more information).

I of course wasn’t old enough to vote in 1984 but now at 33 (yikes, I am growing up!) have a definite opinion about who the next president should be. Every Monday for the next 8 weeks I will be sharing my thoughts on cancer policy, the young adult cancer movement, and the Election. I am not supposed to tell you in this forum who I plan to vote for (but I will anyway on November 3rd) or for that matter who you should vote for, but I can ask you, and all of those who care about young adults impacted by cancer, to do a few favors for me. So here we go…

Favor #1: Educate yourself and everyone you know.
Get on-line and read those plans!

Barack Obama's Plan
John McCain's Plan

Print them out for your friends who may not have computers. Paste them on bathroom stalls where they cannot be ignored. Read them to your elderly grandmother; text them to your 18 year old son.

Evaluate both cancer plans based on the future vision of each candidate…where would we be without hopes and dreams after all? Do ground your analysis, though, in what these three men and one woman have already done for cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. Dig through the all the pretty fluff on the respective websites and links to how you can contribute, and ask yourself some important questions:

What kinds of cancer related programs have McCain, Obama, Biden and Palin supported or initiated the states they represent? Have they voted to cut, increase or maintain NHI/NCI funding? Who has paid attention to the fact that many, many women in this country cannot afford annual mammograms or pap smears and did they turn knowledge of this inequity into effective legislation? Which candidates have demonstrated through their actions that expansion of clinical trials is key to finding a cure?

Next week…Favor #2: Considering the big picture

Elizabeth Saylor, Program and Grants Manager

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