By Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN
In an ornate U.S. Senate hearing room, ONS, with coalition partners, Once Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) and the National Coalition for Cancer Research (NCCR), held a congressional briefing called “National Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel Report Panel Discussion.” Along with the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) acting director, Doug Lowy, MD; Friends of Cancer Research chairperson and founder, Ellen Sigal, PhD; St. Baldrick’s Foundation senior director of advocacy, Danielle Leach, MPA; American Society of Clinical Oncology chief executive officer, Clifford Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, and I were privileged to address a packed audience of advocates and congressional staff on the recently released Blue Ribbon Panel Cancer Moonshot recommendations.
It was a thrilling experience, especially as the only nurse on the BRP, to explain the process and meaning of cancer recommendations to those on Capitol Hill. It was gratifying to see the positive response and interest, as there is so much going on in Washington, DC now with the upcoming elections and the federal budget.
It was an honor to be able to answer the very real questions staffers had about the recommendations that the Panel released in September and to know that, as it pertains to federal funding for cancer research, what the priorities of these congressional offices thought about the work at NCI.
It will take time to know if we can make 10 years of progress in the next five, but we must have adequate resources to try. Although I have been advocating with ONS and for our patients for years, this was another reminder that we, as oncology nurses in particular, must continue to educate decision makers on our role in this process. We must step up to participate when opportunities present. The voice of oncology nurses is far too critical to be silent.