Learn how The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) played a key role in restoring research for all blood cancers as a priority funding area for 2018.
When we think of the federal government’s investments in medical research, we almost always think of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation’s medical research agency. For more than a century, NIH has paved the way for scientific breakthroughs that are helping people live longer, healthier lives.
Federal investments in the NIH have been crucial to helping us understand, prevent and treat cancer. Thanks to more than 2,400 LLS advocates speaking out, Congress allocated nearly $6 billion to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) this year, the principle institute at the NIH for cancer research and training.
NIH has the largest federal footprint for cancer research, but another program at the Department of Defense (DoD) is also doing innovative work to combat cancer. In 1992, Congress established the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at DoD to fill research gaps by funding high-impact, high-risk and high-gain projects. These investments complement the work of the NIH and focus on initiatives to support Service members, their families and the American public.
Since 2009, the CDMRP’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) has been the primary program supporting service-connected blood cancer research at the Department of Defense. The PRCRP strives to advance mission readiness of military members affected by cancer by funding innovative basic, applied and translational cancer research.
Because the PRCRP can fund research in all types of cancer, Congress sets priority research topic areas for the program through the annual federal appropriations process. From 2010-2014, “blood cancers” was a prioritized cancer type within the program, providing grants to advance research in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Unfortunately, funding devoted to “blood cancers” was removed from the program in 2015, but “lymphoma” was added back to the PRCRP as a priority cancer type in 2016 and 2017.
Recognizing the importance of the PRCRP and its history of supporting innovative blood cancer research, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) took the lead in asking Congress to restore all “blood cancers” as a funding priority for the PRCRP. Congress listened to our request. In fact, we were thrilled to see Congress increase funding for cancer research by $20 million—a 33 percent increase over last year—while also restoring “blood cancers” as a priority cancer type for 2018.
LLS now has the opportunity to work on preserving the “blood cancers” priority area for next year. To join our efforts to support strong federal investments in blood cancer research, become an advocate today by visiting lls.org/be-an-advocate.
More than 20,000 cancer scientists from around the globe came to Chicago this week to share and learn about the latest advances in research and treatments at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). AACR is one of the world’s oldest and largest nonprofits dedicated to cancer research and education.
Blood cancers were among the thousands of scientific presentations and educational sessions. And while much of the excitement focused on lung cancer and other solid tumor cancers (as opposed to those of the blood), it should be noted that most of the concepts and approaches being discussed originated in blood cancer research – and this is promising news for the cancer community at large.
As the voice for all blood cancer patients, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) establishes and grows meaningful relationships with policymakers
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is committed to removing barriers to care for blood cancer patients, and works with federal and state legislators to advocate for policies to ensure patients have access to quality, affordable care and treatments they need.
Here’s an inside look at how we cultivate these key connections:
Recently, members of LLS’s Texas Gulf Coast Chapter Board of Trustees and LLS volunteers from the Houston area met with Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX-08) to share their stories, discuss their commitment to LLS and continue a conversation about policy solutions to address barriers many cancer patients face in accessing their treatments.
The Board of Trustees is an active group of professionals who volunteer their time to help LLS at the highest level. In addition to providing strategic guidance, financial oversight and fundraising support to chapters, trustees serve as local ambassadors to LLS, promote events in the area and help mobilize supporters in their communities.
Congressman Brady chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the Medicare program and a number of other healthcare areas. The discussion with Congressman Brady was the latest in a series of meetings and events in Houston and Washington, D.C. that have been instrumental in growing LLS’s relationships with influential policymakers like this.
Last June, LLS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gwen Nichols had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Brady in his Capitol Hill office. The meeting covered a wide range of issues, from LLS’s efforts on the Beat AML® Master Clinical Trial to policy initiatives to address high out-of-pocket prescription costs for cancer patients in the Medicare Part D program. Dr. Nichols and Congressman Brady had a deeply substantive conversation about LLS’s work, and Congressman Brady expressed support for addressing the Medicare Part D issues we identified.
Following the June meeting, Congressman Brady joined the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter at the 2017 Montgomery County Light The Night Walk in October. Congressman Brady has participated in Light The Night for 15 years. As he addressed the crowd, he encouraged attendees to become advocates to help advance policy solutions for cancer patients.
The LLS Texas Gulf Coast Chapter was again able to build on its relationship with Congressman Brady by inviting him to a special gathering to of its Board of Trustees in February. While Congressman Brady was not able to attend in-person, a staff member from his district office joined and heard about each Trustee’s commitment to the LLS mission.
After the gathering of Trustees in February, Congressman Brady’s office reached out to LLS to schedule an in-person meeting in Houston. During the meeting, Congressman Brady heard directly from Trustees about investments LLS is making in research and community events that support LLS’s mission. He also heard from two leukemia survivors: one who currently participates in the Medicare Part D program and faces extremely high out-of-pocket costs to access her medication and another who is about to become Medicare eligible and is making healthcare decisions based on his anticipated out-of-pocket burden to access treatment. We also discussed policy opportunities to address the impact of rising out-of-pocket prescription costs on all cancer patients.
Congressman Brady has now seen LLS from all sides. He has spoken with LLS’s research experts, met twice with LLS local leaders in his home state, heard directly from patients about their barriers to treatment and participated in a hallmark LLS event in his hometown. By providing a clear picture of all the facets of LLS and our mission, we help ensure that policymakers like Congressman Brady understand what matters most to blood cancer patients and their families and make a true difference for all of those who are impacted by cancer. Our work with Congressman Brady will only grow from here as we continue to support policies that advance cancer research and break down barriers that affect patients’ ability to access their treatments.
With National Volunteer Week approaching (Sunday, 4/15 – Saturday, 4/21), learn how you can raise your voice to help by clicking here.Remember, there are countless ways to help us change the landscape of cancer.