Together, we made great strides in 2020 on Capitol Hill, and we are excited to announce that we now have more OCRA Advocate Leaders than ever before speaking up for the ovarian cancer community. With more than 120 individuals selected—including 53 returning participants—our Advocate Leader program has more than doubled in size this year.
The group represents a wide swath of the country, with Advocate Leaders located in 42 states (including Hawaii for the first time!), as well as the District of Columbia. They had their inaugural meeting on Thursday, January 7, and are eager to use their voices to advocate on behalf of the ovarian cancer community. One particular focus will be working to increase funding for both federal research into the disease and education programs that raise awareness about it. This year, the participants are being organized into four working groups to tackle specific topics: clinical trials, cost of care and treatment, health disparities and vulnerable populations, and genetic/genomic testing and precision medicine.
Since 2013, our Advocate Leaders have raised awareness through news articles and earned media, developed relationships with their elected officials, and fought for increased funding for ovarian cancer research throughout the country. They receive training on how to educate federal and state policymakers about the disease, protect funding for lifesaving research, and make the case for expanded access to treatment and care. Advocate Leaders work with OCRA to organize meetings and follow up with us to report outcomes of their interactions with their elected officials. They are also encouraged to coordinate efforts with other advocates in their district and state to form a network of like-minded grassroots volunteers.
An opportunity for other members of our community to come together with Advocate Leaders and champion critical ovarian cancer funding will occur this March during our Spring Advocacy Day. It will be a virtual two-day event this year, enabling participants from anywhere in the country to train with us and meet with elected officials and their staff—all without having to travel.
Issues of focus will include the urgent need for federal funding to address drastic drops in the number of participants completing cancer clinical trials, as well as the continued importance of the government’s investment in ovarian cancer research and education programs. With a new Congress and new administration coming in this year, it is a critical time to push for prioritization of funding and programs that are crucial for the ovarian cancer community.
Training with OCRA’s Advocacy Team will be held virtually on Monday, March 8. Video conference meetings with legislators and their staff will take place on Tuesday, March 9, and all Spring Advocacy Day participants will receive detailed information about the Member office they will be meeting with ahead of time.
Registration will open soon and space is limited, so check back at our website or follow us on social media @ocrahope to stay in the know.