"Celebration on the Hill made me feel proud to be an oncology nurse".
Approximately 10,000 people from across the Unites States, including healthcare professionals, volunteers, family members, and cancer survivors, were able to make their voices heard that cancer research needs to remain a top healthcare priority. As part of the ambassador role, I had to obtain signatures for the Wall of Hope banner at a Relay for Life Event in my state of New Jersey. Our banner hung among 5,000 others from across the United States. The Wall of Hope, a testament to the courage and strength of the millions of Americans touched by cancer, consisted of more than three million signatures.
Ambassadors from each district in our state had the opportunity to meet with our Congressman on Capitol Hill to talk with him about our commitment to future cancer research funding and support of early detection programs. We shared our stories about what cancer means to us personally. I was able to share my story as an oncology nurse. As ambassadors in our state, we were especially happy that our Congressman signed the Cancer Promise and agreed to support the funding necessary to support cancer research and early detection programs.
I volunteered as an ambassador because it afforded me the opportunity to take an active role in advocating for my patients on a national level. Cancer research is competing against other funding priorities and is facing the most significant cuts in years. Funding for cancer research does make a difference. More patients are living with cancer than ever before. I see everyday the advances we have made in caring for patients with this disease. As the survivors walked the track around the Mall's reflecting pool in Washington, DC, I was truly moved and inspired by how many people were there, hugging family members, singing songs, and rallying for a cure for cancer. More inspiring for me was that for each one of those survivors, most, if not all, had been cared for by an oncology nurse. At that moment, I felt so much pride in being able to represent our profession and have my voice heard so that cancer may be silenced.
By Michele Gaguski, MSN, RN,