October is a time when many are focused on shining a spotlight on breast cancer and working to find a cure. And while you may have heard of the American Cancer Society, you might not be familiar with the ACS Cancer Action Network—the nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy arm of the ACS, who along with its volunteers, works year-round to make cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government.
To learn more about ACS CAN and its efforts, we sat down with Debbie Verbrugge, District 3 ACT Lead for ACS CAN.
Verbrugge explained that ACS CAN works to accomplish its mission by empowering volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives.
"We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat and survive cancer," Verbrugge said, noting some of ACS CAN's recent accomplishments. "In April of 2022, 100 Advocates from across Michigan participated in the State Cancer Action Day in Lansing where they had meetings with their state representatives and state senators about important cancer legislation. We secured a $500K increase in tobacco cessation funding statewide."
In addition, Verbrugge shared how 15 advocates from Michigan were flown into Washington, DC in September to meet with their federal representatives, including Senator Peters and Senator Stabenow.
"We lobbied for important increases to cancer research funding, greater access to clinical trials, and expanded cancer detection and screening for Medicare patients," Verbrugge said, emphasizing how critical advocacy is to help prevent and fight cancer.
ACS CAN has been behind many efforts which have made a difference in people's lives, including working to ensure private health insurance providers are required to cover mammograms for early detection.
"I have had the honor and privilege working with committed volunteers to ensure that our community and legislators are educated on the initiatives of ACS CAN—fighting to ensure health equity, access to care and working to obtain funding for cancer and prevention," Verbrugge said.
The great news is that getting involved with ACS CAN and their efforts is simple. You can search for volunteer opportunities, join an existing fundraising event or create your own, and take national action to make your voice heard.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
Photos courtesy of ACS American Cancer Society.