In January Betty Gallo and I gave an Advocacy 101 Workshop at the Wellness Community of Central NJ. Betty is in charge of Outreach and Government Relations at the Dean and Betty Gallo Prostate Cancer Center at CINJ. There was so much interest in advocacy among the people who attended we decided to meet again. ( Our original meeting for March had to be postponed.)
Ellen Levine, Program Director of the Central NJ-Wellness Community, was kind enough to contact interested parties and allowed us to meet last night in the Wellness Community's building in Bedminster. Ellen also participated in the meeting. After introducing ourselves Betty reviewed a number of bills at the State and National level of interest to cancer survivors. The last bill she spoke of was HR 2676 and S 2999 Access to Cancer Clinical Trials Act of 2008. The Act would require group and individual health insurance plans to provide coverage for individuals participating in approved cancer clinical trials . ( Being a clinical trial participant myself I know how important participation in clinical trials can be.) Everyone in the room supported the bill and wanted to do something to insure the bill becomes law.
We agreed that the best way to make sure that the voices of NJ cancer survivors are heard would be to form an advocacy group. We will work on a name and mission statement via e-mail and snail mail over the next month or so. We are hoping to work with the CINJ Advocacy Commission of which I am a member ( and how I met Betty). We also will develop contacts with support groups , hospitals and other cancer survivor organizations throughout the state. If anyone is interested in being a part of this new group, please leave a comment for me and I will add you to our list of participants. We are still working out when and where we will meet but we hope that those who can not attend meetings can still join and receive e-mail's regarding bills, awareness campaigns, education etc. It really is exciting to be on the ground floor of an organization that can change the future for cancer survivors in NJ. Our Next Meeting is scheduled for June 30th.