BOISE, Idaho — Over 3,000 Idahoans will lose their lives to cancer in 2022.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) hosted "Lights of Hope" events in Boise and Meridian to remember all those who have been impacted by cancer, and push for legislation to fight the disease.
"It affects anyone regardless of your political beliefs or affiliation, or gender, race, ethnicity," Cody Wolf, ACS CAN's state lead ambassador for Idaho, said. "Cancer attacks everyone, so that's why we're here today."
The annual tribute covered the steps of the state capitol with bags containing candles. People donated to receive a bag, which honored loved ones, had messages and cancer statistics.
ACS CAN is the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.
"We're what we call the legislative arm of the American Cancer Society," Wolf said. "So ACS CAN is specifically pushing legislative asks that include increasing cancer research funding, access to clinical trials, and early detection screening methods for cancer patients."
The group is asking US Congressman Russ Fulcher of Idaho to co-sponsor the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, a bill introduced by Senator Mike Crapo in 2021.
"We're here to send an important message to congressman Russ Fulcher that cancer is a priority in Idaho," Wolf said. "We have over 10,000 Idahoans that are going to be diagnosed with cancer in 2022 alone. And over 3,000 patients are going die from cancer, unfortunately. So we're urging for him to co-sponsor the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Act to provide early access to a novel treatment for cancer detection, that's a simple blood test that can detect over 50 cancers. We all know that early detection is the best method to cure cancer at this stage. So we're really hoping that he'll co-sponsor the legislation for us this year."
The annual Boise and Meridian tributes were two of many Lights of Hope events ACS CAN hosts across the country. This year, they plan to light up 60,000 bags to honor loved ones impacted by cancer.
"We were just in Washington DC a few weeks ago and we had a Lights of Hope ceremony at the gardens," Anita Sloan, ACS CAN volunteer lead for Idaho's 2nd district said. "We wanted to bring it back here and create some awareness and recognition - cancer is here to stay until we make a difference."
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