The Many Faces of Advocacy

August 31, 2016
black woman and two white men smiling in front of a house

Each year, as summer turns into fall, the cancer community begins a period of awareness, as many cancer awareness months and observances occur in September, October and November. Here at the Cancer Support Community, we wanted to use this opportunity to bring awareness to the importance of advocacy for everyone touched by cancer.

That’s why we’re launching our Many Faces of Advocacy campaign. Over the next three months, we will try to demystify advocacy and explain all the different ways anyone can be a cancer advocate.

So, what is advocacy? People often think of advocacy as a formal process that requires some kind of political expertise, but in fact it's much more straightforward than that. Merriam-Webster defines advocacy as "the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal." Advocacy can range from discussing a certain treatment option in the doctor's office all the way up to making the case for prescription drug affordability on the floor of the United States Senate.

We're going to start this campaign by focusing on self-advocacy, which begins with taking charge in understanding your cancer and your options. Being a self-advocate means being informed enough to choose when, where and how to get treatment. It not only helps cancer patients take back control of their lives, it is the first line of defense against having to overpay for medication or not being given the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

As the campaign continues, we will expand our focus by looking at community advocacy. This includes such programs as our Cancer Experience Registry. The Registry is a free resource which allows anyone impacted by cancer to share their story, building a more comprehensive picture of the cancer experience. Through the Registry, everyone affected by cancer can use the power of their experience to join together as one cancer community. Community advocacy can also include becoming active in your local Cancer Support Community Affiliate or other local organization through volunteering or fundraising.

We will wrap up the campaign in November with a discussion of how to advocate for policy changes. This may seem daunting, but it can be as simple as having a personal, human conversation about your story with your member of Congress, helping to provide a face for all those affected by cancer.

We hope you'll come along with us on this journey. Wherever you are in your cancer experience, advocacy can be a powerful way to help everyone touched by cancer and make sure that no one faces cancer alone.