While we like to keep our feet on the ground at home with regional support groups and community events for anyone who has been affected by melanoma, we also know how important it is to never lose sight of the big picture: advocating for nationwide – and worldwide – improvements in melanoma research, prevention, and education. That’s why we recently headed to the capitol to make our mark on the 2015 Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) Advocacy Summit & Hill Day, an event that brought IMPACT Melanoma and many other advocates face to face with some of our nation’s top legislative leaders.
Our first day in Washington was spent discussing our goals with other participants, finding a common ground, and learning more about the legislative process. With an ambitious audience made up of survivors, family members, and community leaders from all over the country, we were off to a great start, but to make a lasting impression, we needed to present a united front for real change in the way we prevent, treat, and think about melanoma.
Exploring what works in the world of prevention, IMPACT Melanoma’s Meghan Rothschild presented the Your Skin Is In and Skinny On Skin programs and the #GetItChecked social media campaign. After they took off in our own communities within New England, we wanted our forward-thinking initiatives to inspire similar ventures in other states and on the national stage.
With the ultimate objectives of the event being improvements in funding and legislation, we also wanted to play a bigger role in setting Hill Day up for successful results. Serving on a panel discussion, we answered questions and shared tips on what to expect from testifying for tanning bed legislation. Together with other advocates on the panel, we hoped that our expertise would help the event’s less experienced participants find a voice during the following day’s meetings with high-profile legislative leaders.
Ending advocacy training on a high note, we were ready to bring our concerns to Capitol Hill, the heart of the American legislative process. Along with other members of today’s diverse melanoma community, we had a chance to meet with individual senators and representatives to talk about issues that we feel deserve national attention. While the MRF also advocated for additional funding, we kept our focus on promoting legislation that would ban the use of tanning beds for minors under the age of 18, a measure that could prevent lifelong skin damage in younger age groups.
As we continue to make a positive impact throughout New England (and eventually all of the US), participating in events like Hill Day allows us to also remain on the front lines of raising awareness of melanoma and other skin cancers. Although much more work remains to be done, every step forward brings us closer to saving more lives and making melanoma history.