I recently blogged about the political climate, about staying focused on an issue, and not getting distracted by partisan political "religions" and finding a way of working together for the greater good. That greater good in my life is, of course, Less Cancer -- the goal of actually reducing the low-hanging, preventable incidences of cancer.
Cancer is something that has touched almost all of us personally.
We understand that Cancer is a large umbrella term, encompassing dozens of diseases; we also know that over 50% of all cancers are preventable.
The American Association for Cancer Research tells us in its cancer progress report that, "Policies, whether implemented by schools, workplaces, businesses, or government -- local, state, or federal -- work by helping to create environments that allow individuals to more easily adopt a lifestyle that promotes cancer prevention. Thus, it is imperative that everyone works together to develop and implement new, more efficient public education and policy initiatives to help reduce the burden of cancer further, in particular, the load from those cancers related to preventable causes."
Cancer comes at us from all directions and only together can we reduce those many kinds of preventable cancer.
With the political climate focused on Corporatism and seemingly less focused on social good, now is the time for non-profits to join arms. Even organizations that might not seem to be aligned need to find common ground.
This is also true of legislators, where many good men and women do work on behalf of the public good.
So it is Less Cancer's job to make sure that increasing incidences of cancer are a consideration when shaping policy.
I have had the honor to work with people like Rep. Steve Israel, who is about to retire, and who five years ago submitted the first National Cancer Prevention Day resolution at my request. He has joined in the fight for Less Cancer by several Democrats and Republicans, including Representative Charlie Dent and Co-Chairs of the United States Congressional Cancer Caucus Representative Debbie Dingell and Representative Tim Murphy.
We all have read tips and guidelines for healthy living from both experts and advocates, which is all well and good. But Less Cancer looks beyond lifestyle issues that may not seem related to cancer, such as drinking water quality.
Cancer, while primarily prevented through lifestyle, many times has powerful external environmental causes.
Preventable cancers frequently require policy change beyond education, as we have seen in Flint, Michigan, among other places in the country where people are unnecessarily exposed to harmful cancer-causing chemicals.
Less Cancer's board member Rob Bilott has been described by The New York Times as the "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare". Rob has been working tirelessly on the issue of something referred to as PFOA, or as Dupont refers to it C8, which was used in the manufacturing of Teflon. The chemical can be found in drinking water and is in fact known to cause cancer.
This February 2, 2017, on Capitol Hill we will hear from Rob, and several other nationally recognized experts on drinking water, lifestyle and other environmental issues linked to cancer.
Long-standing Less Cancer board member, award-winning journalist Miles O'Brien will be moderating our Town Hall meeting.
Tom Sherman, MD, Less Cancer's Chairman of the Board, will be presenting on a New Hampshire cancer cluster, where an increased number of Seacoast children have died from rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS, a rare type of childhood cancer.
We are collaborating with teams from the University of Virginia and American University, which have established Continuing Education credits for both nurses and physicians.
Several other leading experts will be presenting from across the United States. We will even be offering free live streaming so that some of those who cannot make it in person will be able to receive credit online.
Less Cancer and its collaborators create these programs specifically because we are interested in reducing the incidences of cancer. We can do this because people pitch in with time, talent and treasure.
We are not funded by the likes of the tobacco or chemical industries, so we are dependent on the good efforts of individuals.
Many people, nonprofits, and politicians of all stripes make Less Cancer's vision of National Cancer Prevention Day a reality.
Together we can all make a difference, and now more than ever we must use our pioneering spirit to carve new territory for the goal of reducing incidences of cancer. The time is now for us all to pitch in.
This story was first published in Thrive Global.