In the weeks leading up to Advocacy Day each year, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network conducts an advertising campaign targeting federal elected officials and their staff members.
Over the past three years, the organization has adopted a decidedly more provocative and shocking approach to these campaigns. As the only major cancer with a single-digit, five-year relative survival rate, and little demonstrable progress after four decades of miserably underfunded research, I support any approach that gets Congress to sit up and take action.
This year, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is making a much bolder statement than ever before, since it is imperative that Congress pass the bill this year. We hope this year's advertisement does not offend you or anyone who supports the mission. However, I feel strongly, as does the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, that we must be aggressive and even shocking to get our message heard above all of the others that legislators hear each day. That is why we are sharing this year's version of the Advocacy Day ad
with you now, so that you will have a better understanding of why we feel that such a strong message and visual is necessary when we go to Capitol Hill. The copy of the ad you are previewing also includes a summary of the bill.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has always taken an inclusive approach with its constituents. They felt it was important to show an advance copy of this new ad to registered Advocacy Day attendees like you and explain the rationale behind it. (The campaign featuring the ad will launch on June 12 and run through July 12.) They are also sending a statement similar to the one you are reading to their core volunteer base. These are volunteers who hold key roles within each of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's 65 affiliates nationwide.
As the ad was developed, feedback from a representative group of survivors and volunteers was solicited. This leadership group agreed that the ad is shocking, provocative, compelling – and needed to make an impact, grab the attention of legislators, and finally get them to begin to foster real progress and pass the bill.
This ad will appear in the Washington, D.C. area and political publications listed in the P.S. The ad will not appear in consumer or mainstream publications such as People magazine. You will each receive a copy of the magazine the National Journal on the day we go to Capitol Hill. The ad will be on the back cover. The copy of the ad you will get on Advocacy Day has information about the bill on the back. This version will be distributed to all members of Congress prior to Advocacy Day. You and all of the other Advocacy Day participants are encouraged to carry the ad to your meetings with your members of Congress on June 26.
In addition, all Advocacy Day participants will be given a rather unusual calling card to leave behind in the congressional meetings. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has purchased "toe tags." The tags will include the same message as depicted in the ad. There is a space at the top so you can fill in the name of a loved one on the toe tag. Please leave these with the congressional offices after your meetings. We expect members of Congress and their staff to be shocked by this tactic and believe that this is a good thing as it will be impossible to ignore. As a result, they will not be able to ignore our message that they must pass the bill this year.
Now, I would like to share some of my story with you:
In July 2008, two months before my 58th birthday, I went to the doctor for what felt like a heart issue. Two months later, I was having surgery to remove the tail of my pancreas. This surgery confirmed a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in the form of a neo-endocrine, or islet cell, tumor.
In just 90 days, I had gone from being a healthy 58-year-old man who walked, played 18 holes of golf twice a week, and rode bicycles to someone who could barely walk 50 feet and was fighting for his life. As a person of faith, I was not afraid of dying but still wanted to face this disease head on. Now, almost four years later, I still receive treatments as my cancer has metastasized to my liver. But I am still one of the lucky ones and feel it is not only an opportunity, but my responsibility and obligation, to help make a difference and be a voice for those who have lost their battle against this killer.
As a survivor and an advocate for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I strongly and wholeheartedly support this ad campaign 100 percent. Today, I feel energized, I am registered for Advocacy Day, and I am ready to head to Capitol Hill with reprints of this ad in hand as I speak to elected officials about the need for real progress in pancreatic cancer.
It's been five years since the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act was first introduced in Congress. During that time, 181,380 American lives have been lost to this disease. This is unacceptable. I plan to tell my members of Congress that they must pass this bill this year and that I will keep pushing them until they do. I hope you feel energized as well and agree that we need to stir things up in Washington, D.C., and that this ad is a needed step in doing just that!
Four-year survivor, advocate and volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
PS: This new ad will appear in the following publications and on the following websites: washingtonpost.com, Washington Post Express, CQ.com, CQ Healthbeat, Politico.com, National Journal and via Hill Drops. As a reminder, the campaign begins June 12 and ends July 12.