Wow! What an amazing couple of days we have had!
On May 7 our team in D.C. was joined by several of our affiliate leaders from across the United States. This group spent time reviewing policy issues of importance to our mission and also planning meetings with their members of Congress. Of particular importance to our mission is the work to ensure that social and emotional care is a routine part of the
overall treatment plan for anyone living with cancer. According to a report issued by the Institute of Medicine in 2007, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, approximately one-third to one-half of all patients with cancer need support of some kind, yet the delivery of this level of care is the exception rather than the rule. Additionally, emotional care without a formal mental health diagnosis is not reimbursed by insurers which makes the work we do and the delivery of care valuing over $40 million per year free of charge all the more important. Finally, there is information available to indicate that patients who receive support have less distress, likely have an increase in survival, and may cost the health care system less than patients who do not
receive such support. This information as well as other, evidence-based information was shared broadly on the Hill over the course of 2 days.
On May 8, CSC and the House Cancer Caucus hosted a Hill Briefing entitled, Meeting the
Needs of the Whole Patient in Cancer Care. This standing-room only meeting was attended by Hill staff, consumer advocacy organizations, professional societies, and the general public. The group was welcomed by Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Todd Akin who reminded everyone about the life-changing nature
of a cancer diagnosis and just how important it is to address a person’s
psychosocial needs with the same intensity as a person’s biomedical needs. Congresswoman Sue Myrick also spent time addressing the group by applauding the work being done on this topic and encouraging more. Finally, Congresswoman
Sheila Jackson Lee closed the Briefing with her comment, “I am a strong supporter of your work. Let us commit to sitting together to further this mission.”
I would be remiss if I did not mention a little about our panel! In general, they are the people truly leading this movement. They are the people most of us would pay handsomely to hear speak. They are the people who have dedicated their
lives and careers to this mission. We were fortunate to have 6 of these leaders share their thoughts with us. It was a truly humbling experience and one that will not be soon forgotten. I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Sharyl Nass from the Institute of
Medicine, Dr. Barbara Andersen from The Ohio State University, Dr. Lidia
Schapira from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer
Center, Dr. Daniel McKellar from the American College of Surgeons Commission on
Cancer, Ms. Jan Paul a “RP” (Real Person, as she put it), and our own Kim
Thiboldeaux who moderated the panel.
Today was a day of reflection, study, and a very meaningful
step into the future – so that no one has to face cancer alone.