In September, I had the honor to join more than 100 ONS members as we convened in Washington, DC, to advocate for issues important for cancer care and oncology nursing. The National Cancer Moonshot Initiative report had just been released, and our group was invited to the White House office building for a conversation with Vice President Biden.

The culmination of several months of advocacy work was that symptom management, prevention, and person-centered care issues were included in the recommendations. As ONS members, we voiced our opinions in writing, through listening post-meetings, through task force work, by attending a summit, and by having one of our ONS members, Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, appointed to the Blue Ribbon Panel. Our voices were heard; we had an impact on the recommendations that will determine the future of how symptoms are managed and care is delivered.

As we met with legislators to advocate for passage of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act and the 21st Century Cures/Biomedical Innovation package, our group told their stories of caring for individuals with cancer. We conveyed how nurses assist patients to manage side effects such as nausea, pain, and skin reactions, allowing them to continue necessary treatments. We talked about how high medication costs are forcing individuals to go bankrupt, how skilled nurses administer chemotherapy safely and monitor patients for adverse reactions, and how nurses are present to listen to patient fears and help them cope. In all, we visited 380 congressional offices. We emphasized the need for specialized oncology nursing knowledge to provide quality care.

One of the important aspects of being part of ONS is that as a professional organization, we can use the voice of 39,000 members to advocate. At ONS, we advocate for our mission to advance oncology nursing excellence and quality cancer care. Advocacy is a key component of our ONS strategic plan.

Quality care, access to health care, symptom management, and cancer nursing workforce issues are all important things to me. I know that one way, we can impact these things is by telling our oncology nursing stories to elected officials. Through their understanding of how nurses influence care, laws and regulations can be enacted to improve the care of individuals with cancer.