Congressional Families Actions - Fall/Winter 2022

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Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program ®


“We all have a spotlight, a unique sphere of influence,” Abby Blunt, spouse of Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), reminded the audience in the majestic Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol on September 21, 2022. “We should use that spotlight to talk about Back on the Books and encourage the scheduling of screenings.”

That is exactly why Abby, along with tennis champion Chris Evert and “TODAY Show” co-host Hoda Kotb were selected as honorees for the 29th Annual Action for Cancer Awareness Awards Luncheon. Recognized for Congressional Families Leadership, Excellence in Cancer Awareness and Distinguished Service in Journalism, respectively, each of these women has used her platform to share her personal story and inspire her audience to get screened for cancer.

The Congressional Families Program’s signature event returned in-person for the first time since 2019 with a “Back on the Books” theme and reminder to schedule your routine screening appointments. Discovery ID’s Paula Zahn, whose family has been directly impacted by cancer, returned as emcee, a role she has played for most of the previous 28 years. Executive Council members Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.) and LeeAnn Johnson, spouse of Rep. Bill Johnson (Ohio), joined Advisory Committee member Mary Himes,



spouse of Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.), in presenting the prestigious awards. The program featured remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressional Families Program Executive Director Lisa McGovern, and Prevent Cancer Foundation Founder Carolyn “Bo” Aldigé and President and Chief Operating Officer Jody Hoyos.

Abby shared how cancer has closely impacted her family and why she has been active in the Congressional Families Program as a member of

the Executive Council and Advisory Board for many years. She and Sen. Blunt recently filmed a video for our “Congressional Families: Voices for Cancer Prevention” series, encouraging people to get their routine cancer screenings scheduled.

Although Hoda Kotb was ultimately unable to join us in person, she felt very much in the room with her warm personality jumping off the screen as she shared her acceptance by video.

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Row: L to R: Abby Blunt (Mo.), Chris Evert, Paula Zahn Row: L to R: Carolyn “Bo” Aldigé, LeeAnn Johnson (Ohio), Lisa McGovern, Mary Himes (Conn.)



Dear Congressional spouses and friends,

FALL BRINGS CHANGES: This fall finds us again in a time of transition, as we prepare to say “farewell” to elected officials leaving or changing office and their spouses who move on along with them. I want to express our deep appreciation to those departing our Executive Council: Abby Blunt, spouse of Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Martha Brooks, spouse of Rep. Mo Brooks (Al.), Karmen Walker Brown, spouse of Rep. Anthony Brown (Md.), Marcelle Leahy, spouse of Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Barbara Long, spouse of Rep. Billy Long (Mo.), Deborah Malumed, M.D., spouse of Rep. Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), and Mary McKinley, spouse of Rep. David McKinley (W. Va.). As Executive Council members, each of these individuals have generously shared their talents, insights and guidance to help lead and grow our program. And as program participants, they have utilized their platforms and visibility to raise awareness in their home districts and states. We are so grateful to each of them for their service to this program and our bipartisan work.

LET’S BRING YOUR VOICE TO VIDEO: I can’t help but think of how our work has evolved over time. Social media has opened new ways for us to share important stories and messages. Recently, we have been exploring more ways to utilize video through our Congressional Families: Voices for Cancer Prevention series (read more on page 5). Video can be so impactful, reaching and engaging many more people across the country. Have you or someone you know been touched by a specific cancer—or is your district disproportionately impacted by breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, skin or some other cancer type? Email me at; let's work together to create a brief video to tell that story. Stories can change lives.

WORKING IN YOUR DISTRICT/STATE: As always, we would love to hear the ways you are involved in cancer awareness and education in your districts and states. We welcome your ideas for innovative ways we can reach medically underserved communities and share information more widely. Are there local groups that might be interested in our Guide to Preventing Cancer or Breast Health Education Facilitator’s Guide? Can we partner with your local hospital or organization on an educational panel? Let’s get creative!

In this season of thanksgiving, gratitude and grace, we give thanks to each of you for your service to this program and to America. Wishing you the happiest of holidays.




Share weekly social media posts

Record a two-minute awareness video

Submit cancer awareness month op-eds

Host or attend educational events in your district

Participate in educational webinars/ seminars

For more information on how to be involved, view & download our toolkit at


Each month, the Congressional Families Program offers members and spouses the opportunity to submit op-eds about cancer prevention and early detection to their local media outlets. Op-eds can be personalized and tailored for local use. Thank you to the following members and spouses who have recently participated in our op-ed program to share vital cancer prevention and early detection messages in their home communities:

Patti Garamendi – Calif.

Nicole Beus Harris – Md.

Mary Himes – Conn.

Mikey Hoeven – N.D.

LeeAnn Johnson – Ohio

Wayne Kye- N.Y.

Kelley Paul – Ky.

Amanda Soto – Fla

Learn more about how you can educate the public about cancer prevention and early detection at

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The veteran morning show anchor told of a lifechanging encounter with a stranger on a plane, who encouraged Hoda to share her breast cancer journey with her vast audience in hopes of inspiring action and saving lives. She took the advice and continues to follow it even now, 15 years since her diagnosis. Watch Hoda’s moving remarks at

Chris Evert spoke about her ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2021. Several years prior, her sister Jeanne faced the same cancer at a later stage; after Jeanne’s death, doctors discovered a rare mutation of the BRCA gene had been the cause. Chris also carried the gene mutation, and her cancer—a type that is often caught too late to be effectively treated—was detected early. “My sister saved my life,” she said, and she tells their stories in hopes that people will learn their own family history and get screened as needed.

“Each of our honorees this year exemplifies how sharing our personal stories can inspire others to take charge of their health,” said Lisa McGovern. “Early detection can save lives, but many people have put off their routine cancer screenings the past few years. We commend this year’s award recipients—each of whom has a deep and meaningful connection with the public—for giving people the extra encouragement they may need to get those appointments back on the books.”

A bipartisan audience of 35 congressional spouses, 21 Representatives, and four Senators, along with leaders from the cancer prevention community, including Danielle Carnival, White House Cancer Moonshot coordinator, attended the event.

In 2023, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the event. Stay tuned for details!

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L to R: Prevent Cancer Foundation Board Chair Bill Magner, Carolyn “Bo” Aldigé, Chris Evert and Jody Hoyos L to R: Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.) and Abby Blunt L to R: Karmen Walker Brown (Md), Mary Himes and Lacey Delgado (N.Y.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi L to R: Wendy Murphy (N.C.), Robin Allen (Ga.), LeeAnn Johnson, Sue Curtis (Utah) and Rep. Bill Johnson L to R: Rep. Joseph and Mary Beth Morelle (N.Y.), Colleen Ochoa Peters (Mich.), Tiffany Mfume (Md.)


Through our community grants program, the Prevent Cancer Foundation annually identifies and funds extraordinary work across the U.S. to educate the public about lifesaving cancer screenings and make them more accessible and affordable. As Executive Director of the Congressional Families Program, it is my honor to visit some of these organizations and showcase the impactful work being done to make quality health care more accessible and affordable.

This August, I had the opportunity to visit two grantees. First, I traveled to Bangor, Maine, to learn more about the work of a 2021 community grantee, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC). I was joined by fellow congressional spouses and members of the Congressional Families Program—Mary Herman, spouse of Sen. Angus King, and Isobel Golden, spouse of Rep. Jared Golden—to call

attention to the vital resources available to their Maine constituents that could increase cancer screening rates.

This event was held at the Bangor Region YMCA, a 26-year partner with EMMC through their Caring Connections program. The Bangor Y helps with the educational, emotional and logistical barriers to cancer screenings—including transportation and childcare—and then links patients to EMMC for testing and medical services. This partnership with EMMC provides free mammograms for anyone who meets age and annual income guidelines through the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP).

Catherine “Cat” Schureman, BSN, RN, Director of Breast Services at EMMC, spoke passionately about innovative efforts to reduce barriers and expedite access to screenings.

Primary care process improvements and online appointment scheduling has reduced the average wait time for mammograms from 110 days to four days, and the percentage of patients past due for mammograms has been reduced from 46% to 16%. Impressive!

The project targets EMMC primary care patients ages 50-75 who identify as female, many of whom have missed their mammogram appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. A broader community education campaign, supported by EMMC and the YMCA, targets rural and LGBTQ+ populations in the area.

Next, I traveled across the country to visit Albie Aware Breast Cancer Foundation, a 2022 grantee addressing the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community in Sacramento, California.

Joining me to highlight the organization’s great work were Rep. Doris Matsui (Calif.), who co-founded the Congressional Families Program more than 30 years ago and represents the district where Albie Aware is based, and my husband, Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.).

Unfortunately, Sacramento County has a higher death rate due to breast cancer than the national and state averages, and the LGBTQ+ community has increased risk factors for breast cancer and less access to screenings. With the Foundation’s funding, Albie Aware, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated solely to breast cancer in the greater Sacramento area, will bring mobile mammograms to at least 90 members of their local LGBTQ+ community and will hold a virtual event for breast cancer awareness.

Led by its dynamic executive director Courtney Quinn, who also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and is a breast cancer survivor, Albie Aware is meeting LGBTQ+ people where they are—physically and emotionally—to break down some of the barriers to getting screened

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L to R: Mike Smith, Northern Light Health Foundation; Diane Dickerson, Bangor Region YMCA; Catherine Schureman, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center; Mary Herman (Maine); Lisa McGovern; Isobel Golden (Maine); Emily Tolman, Northern Light Health

and staying healthy. We heard from Courtney during our visit, as well as the Founder of Albie Aware, Doug Carson, and the Chief Program Officer of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, Koby Rodriguez, all of whom highlighted how the resources being offered by Albie Aware are helping the LGBTQ+ community in Sacramento.

Our collective goal is to increase screening rates to prevent cancer and detect it early across all populations—and across America. I always leave these visits inspired, energized and grateful!

To learn more about the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s community grants program, visit https:// community-grants. It might be of interest to organizations in your district/state. If any of the Foundation’s current grantees are in your district or state, we’d love to work with you on a site visit to highlight their work. Please reach out!



then we (and you!) can post them on YouTube and other social media outlets. To date, video messages have included Rep. Nikema Williams (Ga.) for National Minority Health Month; Cheryl Greene, spouse of

Angie Craig (Minn.), for Pride Month; Janine Bera, M.D., spouse of



As we continue to explore the links between nutrition and health, and specifically diet-related diseases, I was honored to attend the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on September 28. This was the first White House conference on hunger in over 50 years— the only other was convened by then-President Richard M. Nixon in 1969, the year we landed a man on the moon.

President Biden hosted the bipartisan conference to mobilize action for the many Americans facing food insecurity and to reduce dietrelated diseases, such as diabetes, obesity (related to increased risk of developing at least 13 types of cancer) and hypertension. The Conference laid out goals for ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030 all while closing disparities and making healthy food more affordable and accessible to all.

(Calif.), for National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week;

Roy Blunt and Abby Blunt (Mo.) on getting routine medical appointments back on the books; Mary Himes, spouse of Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.), for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Charlie Capito, spouse of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.). We would like to engage as many of you as possible on a wide range of topics and to connect with a variety of communities. We can help you select a topic and draft a script to make this as easy as possible – and you and/or your spouse can do it from your phone!

To view the series, visit

Following a nationwide call to action by the White House, $8 billion private- and public-sector commitments have been made to help reach those goals. This important work is just beginning! We will continue to closely monitor research and advances in understanding the relationship between food and diet-related diseases in our work to prevent cancer.

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L to R: Koby Rodriguez, Sacramento LGBT Community Center; Courtney Quinn, Albie Aware; Rep. Doris Matsui (Calif.), Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.), Lisa McGovern; and Doug Carson, founder, Albie Aware this year, the Congressional Families Program launched our new video series, “Voices for Cancer Prevention.” Congressional members and spouses are invited to film brief cancer prevention and early detection messages videos and Rep. Rep. Bera Sen.



The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program® is a bipartisan effort, founded in 1991, to increase the public’s understanding of cancer prevention and early detection. Families of Senate, House, Cabinet, Supreme Court and the Diplomatic Corps are invited to work within their respective constituencies to educate the public. The Congressional Families Program offers educational events, materials and resources, enabling its members to bring the message of cancer prevention and early detection back to their communities.

Cassie Smith, Editor Lisa McGovern, Assistant Editor

Congressional Families Cancer Prevention A Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation® 333 John Carlyle St, Ste. 635 Alexandria, VA 22314 • tel: 703.837.3697

Congressional Families Cancer Prevention

is a program of the

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is one of the nation’s leading health organizations and the only U.S. nonprofit focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection. Founded in 1985, it has elevated cancer prevention to prominence and fulfills its mission through research, education, outreach and advocacy across the country. Our public education programs have applied this scientific knowledge to inform the public about ways they can reduce their cancer risks.

Do you know of a member or spouse who might want more information about the Congressional Families Program? Contact Lisa McGovern at

333 John Carlyle St, Ste. 635, Alexandria, VA 22314


The Congressional Families Program distributes weekly social media posts for members and spouses to share, highlighting facts or tips related to monthly cancer observances (e.g., Lung Cancer Awareness Month) and other relevant occurrences, such as World Cancer Day. We encourage you to share these educational posts with your followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Remember to use #CongressionalFamilies and tag @PreventCancer to coordinate our efforts and so we won’t miss your post. If you aren’t receiving this information and would like to, email Lisa at

Thank you to the following members and spouses who have shared posts on social media in recent months:

Rep. Julia Brownley – Calif.

Rep. Troy Carter – La.

Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick – Fla.

Rep. Debbie Dingell – Mich.

Martha McKenzie Hill – Ark.

LeeAnn Johnson – Ohio

Rep. Jim McGovern – Mass.

Rep. Kweisi Mfume – Md.

Rep. Pete Sessions – Texas

Amanda Soto – Fla.

Rep. Dina Titus – Nev.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib– Mich.

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