Bringing hope home
Thu, 09/17/2020 - 3:42pm caleb
Cancer awareness and advocacy doesn’t take a break during the pandemic, efforts are ongoing to bring light to new congressional bill
Kinzie Nena | Staff Writer
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) lit almost 200 Lights of Hope at a local home during its 10th annual Lights of Hope event on September 12 to help bring awareness to local, state, and federal officials to help ensure that cancer research, prevention, and treatment remains a number one priority in Congress.
In the past the Lights of Hope event has been held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC; however, during the pandemic, the Lights of Hope Across America were lit at homes and at landmarks with social distancing practices. Nationally, Lights of Hope raised $700,000 in donations to help the cause and spread awareness. Here in the First Congressional District, which covers most of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, Sandra Westover, the ASC CAN ACT! Lead, lit almost 200 Lights of Hope at her home in Frederic, raising $1,900.
“This year will be truly special as we host Lights of Hope Across America. Each light of hope honors loved ones who have survived cancer and remembers those we’ve lost. The displays in communities from coast to coast will send a clear and impactful message to lawmakers that fighting cancer must be a national priority,” according the Cancer Action Network website.
The goal of Lights of Hope is to be a visual reminder to Congress to be focused and unwavering in its fight against cancer, according to Cancer Action Network.
While the main focus of the Lights of Hope event is to promote awareness, the ACS CAN is involved in the political landscape in a nonpartisan way.
“Cancer is the number one priority. Cancer, unfortunately, affects everyone. We all either have a family member or friend or someone we know with a cancer diagnosis at some point. This is something we all have common ground with,” said Westover.
The ACS CAN is currently concentrating on the bill known as S.946 – The Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act of 2019, “to direct the Comptroller General of the United States to complete a study on barriers to participation in federally funded cancer clinical trials by populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in such trials,” according to Congress.gov. The ACS CAN hopes this bill will help promote awareness, accessibility, and encourage more volunteers for cancer research and medical advances.
The bill is named in honor of Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African American woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Cells cultivated during Lacks treatment have helped medical researchers discover important breakthroughs including the developement of the polio vaccine, treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease, according to Johns Hopkins.
Lacks’ cells, which have been named the HeLa Cells, are immortal human cells that have been used to study toxins, drugs, hormones and viruses, the effects of radiation and poisons, study the human genome, and how viruses work, according to Johns Hopkins, and controversies are brought up about Lacks’ cells because of the lack of permission to take the cells and because her family was not informed or given compensation for the use and discoveries brought about from the HeLa cells.
The ACS CAN also hopes to support an increase in funding for cancer research and cancer prevention programs with the National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute, and the Center of Disease Control. For more information about the Lights of Hope Across America, or the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, you can visit www.fightcancer.org.