On March 9th and 10th, KidneyCAN delegates from all over the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to lift their voices on behalf of the kidney cancer community.

Monday was filled with presentations designed to give delegates an education in kidney cancer research and the current state of funding.

Amie Bunker, Phd., a science officer with the Kidney Cancer Research Program, along with patient advocate Caroline Sample, spoke about the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).

Dr. Gennady Bratslavsky, Department Chief of Urologic Oncology with SUNY Upstate Medical, shared research and lessons from the National Cancer Institute. His main ideas were both practical and inspiring:

  • Think BIG.
  • Do something that cannot be done.
  • Support basic research and clinical trials.
  • Work jointly with the pharmaceutical industry – they are on our side!
  • Educate about kidney cancer and ADVOCATE.

This segued neatly to a session called “Advocacy 101,” where our delegates learned about advocacy on Capitol Hill and what to expect during meetings on Tuesday. Mark Veith offered information on the current policy landscape and policy issues specific to kidney cancer.

After a full day of lessons and learning on Monday, the KidneyCAN delegates were more than ready to head to the Hill on Tuesday with their stories of inspiration and need for funding.

This was perhaps the most impactful and meaningful part of the two-day advocacy event. Dr. Mehmet Bilen, a medical oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, shared his thoughts after attending with his patient, KidneyCAN delegate Deb Beyhan:

“I had an incredible experience today at KidneyCAN Advocacy Day. Everyone, from the patients to the caregivers to the physicians, has the same mission: raising awareness of the need for kidney cancer research.

“Today, I was able to team up with one of my dear kidney cancer patients and work shoulder-to-shoulder with her on Capitol Hill. There are really no words that explain my emotions and satisfaction.I realized, one more time, that if we work together, nothing is impossible.”

There it is.

If we work together, nothing is impossible.

Mother & Daughter on Capitol Hill

“This was my first time participating in an event like this, and the planning committee made it a seamless process. I hope more people join us next time! The first day’s sessions were very educational training that prepared us well for discussions on the Hill.

The opportunity to have our voices heard on Capitol Hill is a true privilege. I am so honored to be able to represent myself, my family, the kidney cancer community, and the medical teams who are looking for a cure for kidney cancer.

Thank you to the organizers of this advocacy event. We appreciate the time and effort extended to maximize the impact that we can make to help find a cure.

KidneyCAN’s Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, were a wonderful opportunity to meet other kidney cancer patients who understand the importance of medical research funding.

This work is the future of and the key to patient survival.”

– Shari Stonacek, first-time KidneyCAN delegate with her daughter Jaidin

The New York and Texas delegates head for the Hill!

Dr. Mehmet Bilen advocates alongside patients Deb Beyhan and Howard McClurd.

Off we go! KidneyCAN was well-represented with delegates from all over the country.

Caroline Sample connects with Evelyn Cole and Gary Cole.

Brenda Kelly, Deb Beyhan, and Mike Kasper get organized for a day of advocacy.