2/25/2019 & 2/26/2019
"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected".
Henry David Thoreau
The preparation for our journey to Washington began weeks before our visit to the Capitol. To obtain the requested appointments with Congressmen/women required weeks of phone calls and research. This was one of the most difficult tasks. The first step was to identify the Representatives that would be supportive of our mission based on their interests and service on committees. Next, we needed to identify and contact the Health Legislative Assistants at each of the offices. We contacted these individuals via emails to explain our cause and objectives for the meeting then followed up with phone calls.
As we hoped to confine our stay in Washington to two nights, trying to schedule the meetings in tandem was the goal. Eventually we were able to arrange appointments with the offices of six Representatives over a period of two days.
Once the appointments were tentatively approved for a meeting by the office staff, appointments were made for Judy to be interviewed via phone by their Health Legislative Assistants at each of the offices. More information was requested to support our request and finally meeting dates and times were confirmed. For each meeting, we were only allocated 15 minutes of time to present our agenda.
Since our our group of three were residents of either Florida or Ohio, our goal was to meet with Representatives from both states. We were successful in obtaining appointments with the offices of Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Lois Frankel, Brian Mast, Marcia Fudge, Joyce Beatty, and Debbie Dingle. The meeting with Debbie Dingle, although she was not in any of our districts, was requested because of her position as co-chair of the congressional bi-partisan Cancer Prevention Caucus.
In the case of Brian Mast, Judy's Congressman, we were granted a meeting with the Congressman himself. We were told we would be meet with Debbie Wasserman Shultz as well. The meeting with the Congressman himself did occur, however we were very disappointed when Congresswoman Wasserman-Shultz did not attend herself. In lieu of meeting with Debbie, our meeting was with Jackie Wang, her Health Legislative Assistant, and we were surprised and elated that the Congresswoman's Chief of Staff, Tracie Pough, was also asked to joined us. The meeting with Wasserman Shultz's office would prove to be our "golden ticket".
Two weeks following our meetings, I was asked to provide Congresswoman Wasserman-Shultz's office with the "report language" I would like proposed for the 2020 House Budget. The Congresswoman would champion our cause! The language was sent, and our proposal was submitted rebatum.
These efforts also received visibility with offices at NIH thanks to introductions Judy received from Jackie Wang. Judy has now been invited to be a Consumer Reviewer and Advocate for the Breast and Ovarian Cancers Grant program at NIH. Our goal was achieved but there is still much work to do. The budget and language that was passed by the Senate was diluted and you can read the exact language on our results page.