American Cancer Society members meet for a Day at the State House

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network met Wednesday morning at the State House for “Suits and Sneakers,” their fourth annual Day at the State House event. Members and volunteers gathered at 11 a.m. in the Blatt Building to discuss their purpose for the day. Everyone had been advised to wear sneakers since they would be doing a lot of walking, to reach many different representatives across the State House grounds. ACS Government Relations Director Beth Johnson spoke to the crowd to recap what they were going to be doing, and why they take part in this event.

“Our goal today is to help educate our lawmakers on the cancer issues that are impacting South Carolinians,” Johnson said. “We really hope to be a resource for the legislators, and let them know that we are here and all over the state and we care about cancer.” After a lunch break, the members broke up into groups to drop off a “priority leave behind” to multiple legislators’ offices. According to Johnson, this information lays out what the ACS hopes to accomplish by the end of the year. She says their main goal for the day is to gain support from the legislators, and to have them agree that cancer research and treatment does in fact deserve more funding. “We want them to say ‘yes’ we support you and we are behind you,” said Johnson.

At the end of the event, the crowd gathered in the State House lobby to hear supportive words from cancer survivors. Five high school coaches from Lexington, Greenville, Rock Hill, Charleston and Abbeville who all battled with cancer shared their personal stories. River Bluff High Coach Brian Thompson stressed the importance of the state’s funding for cancer-related purposes. He believes there should be more money given to preventative care and screenings. “Funding was slashed from a million to five hundred thousand dollars last year and we want that back up to a million,” he said. “If we have to raise some taxes on tobacco to do that, then let’s do it, as simple as that.”

Beth Johnson believes this event is more than just lobbying for the cause, it’s getting the word out for those who cannot be there themselves. “It’s empowering the people of South Carolina to make their voices heard,” she said. “Sometimes patience can’t always get your voice heard, so we’re being the voice for the patient.”