By Guest Blogger Sarah Milberg, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and Director of Government Relations and Advocacy for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation
For nearly 10 years, childhood cancer advocates from around the country have come to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Childhood Cancer Action Days. Action Days brings our community together to advocate for important childhood cancer issues currently before Congress. As a result of our advocacy, we have seen many important childhood cancer policies, like the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, become law. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our plans for Action Days had to change this year, but we are excited to come together digitally for a Virtual Day of Action on Wednesday, September 9.
We have accomplished a lot together as a community in recent years. One major victory we all can celebrate was the passage of the Childhood Cancer STAR Act two years ago. The STAR Act, which is the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever considered by Congress, expands opportunities for childhood cancer research, improves efforts to identify and track childhood cancer incidences, and enhances the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors.
Getting the STAR Act signed into law was a tremendous accomplishment – but our work to make this legislation as effective as possible didn’t end when the law passed. Congress must fund the programs created by the STAR Act every year to ensure they are implemented to their fullest potential. For the last two years, Congress has fully funded the STAR Act and enabled the launch of the programs created by the bill while increasing funding for childhood cancer research at the National Cancer Institute. In fact, thanks to greater awareness and advocacy, and programs like the STAR Act, the federal investment in childhood cancer research has nearly doubled in recent years. Despite these encouraging advancements, we must continue to work towards new, safe therapies for kids with cancer. That’s why full funding of the STAR Act in this budget cycle is so important.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that included full funding for the Childhood Cancer STAR Act for a third year. On September 9, just three weeks before the end of the federal fiscal year, we will be calling on Congress to finalize this funding so the programs created by the STAR Act can move forward for another year. By raising our voices together through emails to Capitol Hill and social media posts, we will do our part to ensure that our lawmakers know that funding the STAR Act is a top priority for the childhood cancer community.
Want to join us? Check back here on September 9 for more information on how to participate!