Two Boise State volunteers with the American Cancer Society (ACS) met with members of Congress last month to advocate for policy changes that support the fight against cancer.
The advocacy-based branch of the ACS, called the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), holds annual leadership summits where volunteers across the nation meet with their congressional representatives.
This year’s leadership summit was held over Zoom, where Boise State accounting senior Anita Sloan and Boise State Ph.D. candidate Cody Wolf met with Sen. Jim Risch’s staff and other lawmakers to advocate for increased cancer research funding, support for early detection legislation and more.
Sloan is the ACS Advocacy Lead for Idaho’s second congressional district and has been volunteering for the ACS since high school. Sloan also acts as the vice president of philanthropy for the Boise State Zeta Tau Alpha chapter, a sorority that partners with the ASC and the Breast and Ovarian Health Organization known as Bright Pink.
As part of her role as the Advocacy Lead, Sloan routinely meets with Idaho legislators.
“It’s given me an opportunity to be able to communicate with our legislators and lead our district in terms of bringing attention to any events we put on,” Sloan said.
Wolf volunteers as the State Lead Ambassador for ACS CAN and is a full-time cancer researcher at Boise State. Wolf started volunteering with the ACS in 2014 when he attended his first Relay for Life event.
As the State Lead Ambassador, Wolf is tasked with working with other leads and volunteers to help organize local action, which requires him to meet with the Idaho senators multiple times a year.
The volunteers had three main tasks for the congressional delegation this year: increasing funding to various health organizations, gaining co-sponsors for a Medicare bill that encourages early detection screening and an extension for the American Rescue Plan.
“If you want to make change, it starts with policy at the federal level,” Wolf said. “The first step is to pass policy where you’re giving [patients] access to early detection, prevention, screenings, new testing methods and funding research that is going to help find cures or find treatments.”
Increase in funding would go to organizations like the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to support cancer research, treatments and screenings.
The Idaho and Montana grassroots manager for ACS CAN, Randy Johnson, also attended the leadership summit alongside Sloan and Wolf. Johnson worked in nonprofits for over 20 years before beginning his position at the ACS.
“One thing about working with cancer [is that] it is non-partisan and so it allows us to work across party lines. It doesn’t matter where you live; nobody should have to hear they have cancer,” Johnson said.
At this year’s leadership summit, Sen. Mike Crapo became the lead co-sponsor of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Act, with Sen. Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson also co-signing the bill.
Wolf mentioned his efforts to get Rep. Russ Fulcher to co-sign the bill in order to have the entire Idaho delegation behind the early screening act.
“We’ll be advocating every single year until we see cancer become [a thing of] the past,” Sloan said.