American Cancer Society volunteers to advocate at capitol

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JEFFERSON CITY - More than 100 volunteers from across the state will talk to lawmakers about cancer-related legislation on Wednesday.

The volunteers say they'll advocate for issues like funding the Show Me Healthy Women program, smoking cessation and prevention programs, and changing Missouri's law on tanning beds.

Tim Freeman, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's grassroots manager, said this will give volunteers a chance to tell legislators their cancer stories.

"They will all meet individually with their state representatives and their state senators really to share their personal stories, let the legislators know why they took the time out of the middle of a week to come to Jefferson City to talk to them about these issues and why they’re important to them and then leave them with information related to all three of the issues," Freeman said.

Freeman has worked for the American Cancer Society for about nine years, and said personal stories are what stick with lawmakers when it comes to advocating for cancer-related issues.

“We want to make sure all of our volunteers are able to share their personal stories because we know that every legislator and even staff member in the capitol has some sort of connection to cancer," Freeman said. "We all do."

Freeman said volunteers will also ask legislators to maintain funding for mammogram and pap smear testing for uninsured and underinsured women, as well as request continued funding for programs to help people stop smoking. 

"Missouri is actually last in the nation in funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs," Freeman said. "So we would like to see any money that is available for those programs to help people quit smoking."

Lastly, they want to change rules related to tanning beds. Right now, anyone who is under the age of 18 can use a tanning bed with a parental consent form, but Freeman said there are ways around that consent form. 

"What we would like to see would be for the law to be strengthened - that you have to be at least 18 years old to use an indoor tanning facility,” Freeman said.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network works year round to advocate for cancer legislation. Freeman said people can find more information about cancer legislation on the Missouri chapter's Facebook page.