Picture of Kathryn Gilje

Kathryn Gilje

Report back on cancer – bringing your sigs inside the White House

Cancer. Ironically and tragically, as I’ve experienced more and more cancer in the lives around me, I’ve begun to harden myself to its consequences. I expect it someday. I accept cancer as an inevitable part of life that we must battle and do our best to survive. I’ve even watched myself teach this to young ones as I attempt to soothe their fear. Despite my best intentions, I’m normalizing cancer.

But this much cancer — and the pain, fear, and enormous cost that accompanies it — doesn't have to be a normal part of life. Cancer used to be exceedingly rare. And we should just never be in a position of trying to make sense of rising rates of childhood cancer. Period.

These are some of the reasons I went to visit to the White House this week:

  • to show the Obama Administration how concerned we are about cancer, and
  • to ensure that they take prevention seriously by advancing policy to end reliance on toxic chemicals that cause this disease.

On Thursday, I joined several close PAN partners, including the Breast Cancer Fund, Moms Rising and other members of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, to deliver 73,635 signatures to the White House that demanded action on cancer and toxics. The White House reiterated their support for strong action on chemicals that cause cancer, and we expect a formal statement from the office next month.

Here's an excerpt from our petition:

Every minute, at least one American will die from cancer.

What is particularly frightening about this statistic is that, contrary to general assumption, many of these cancers could have been prevented. Americans are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals on a daily basis, in the workplace, in classrooms, and even in our homes. Right now, it’s perfectly legal to add chemicals known to cause cancer to the products we use every day, including children’s toys, furniture, food containers and cosmetics.

By setting the course for a national cancer prevention strategy that includes eliminating the use of cancer-causing chemicals, the President can reverse decades of failed policies that have allowed those chemicals to contaminate our lives and endanger our health.

In our PAN community, we have many cancer survivors that want to do everything possible to prevent more. What a beautiful and inspiring way to handle disease, and to push us forward. Just yesterday, I received a note from a lymphoma survivor, right on time for the day of action in D.C.

Your engagement is powerful, and together, we will get there. Thank you all for being part of the 73,635 who pushed us to get this far, and thank you in advance for the next action you'll take to keep this issue on fire.

What's next? >> We'll be watching closely for two things in the next three months: A statement from the White House on their commitment to creating an action plan on cancer and toxic chemicals, as suggested by the President's Cancer Panel. And on pesticides, we'll be waiting for their next steps on canceling all uses of cancer-causing methyl iodide. Join us.

Picture of Kathryn Gilje

Kathryn Gilje

Share this post