Congressional Families Actions: Spring/Summer 2024

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Congressional Families®

Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation®



On Thursday, April 11, leaders in cancer prevention and early detection gathered with a bipartisan, bicameral group of congressional members and spouses at the Congressional Families Program’s Spring Reception on Capitol Hill to celebrate the inaugural presidential proclamation of April as National Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Month. The proclamation was a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Prevent Cancer Foundation® in partnership with the White House Cancer Moonshot.

The event honored Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., with the Carolyn “Bo” Aldigé Visionary Award for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his distinguished leadership of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Collins was the longest serving presidentially appointed director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), having served three U.S. presidents over more than 12 years. He worked closely with then-Vice President Biden to launch the Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) presented the award, which is named in honor of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s founder.

During his acceptance of the award, Dr. Collins movingly revealed his own recent prostate cancer diagnosis. Dr. Collins noted he is sharing his unique situation — in which the research he devoted his career to is now guiding him through diagnosis and treatment — to educate others about the importance of early detection.

“I served medical research. Now it’s serving me. And I don’t want to waste time,” said Dr. Collins.

The evening also included remarks from Sheetal Sheth, an actor, producer and writer who shared her breast cancer early detection story. As a young mother, she nearly put off her mammogram appointment because she was too busy. She credits the appointment with saving her life as she was soon diagnosed with breast cancer. Lisa McGovern, Congressional Families Program executive director, and Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, spoke about the work of the Program and the Foundation.

The event was filled with distinguished leaders from the cancer prevention community including Secretary Xavier Becerra who heads the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, Director of the NIH.

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(L to R): Jody Hoyos, Prevent Cancer Foundation CEO; Lisa McGovern, Congressional Families Program Executive Director; Dr. Francis Collins; Rep.Rosa DeLauro (Conn.); Sheetal Sheth

Dear congressional families and friends,

How do you like our new look? After 30 years, Congressional Families has a fresh, modernized logo! The new design conveys our bipartisan work that lifts up Congress and families across the country. The green helix echoes the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s logo and also reflects the coming together of our parties to prevent cancer. Special thanks to each of our Executive Council members who provided input in finalizing our choice!

Remember Flat Stanley, the beloved children's book character that could be taken and photographed around the world to teach about different places and cultures?

Well, meet Earl E. Bird. Earl took flight this April to help the Prevent Cancer Foundation launch the inaugural National Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Month.

Like Flat Stanley, Earl is a teaching tool—a bright, visual reminder to be proactive about your health, learn what routine cancer screenings you need and schedule your appointments. There is an old adage that “the early bird gets the worm,” and Earl reminds us that Early Detection = Better Outcomes.

We want you to get creative and have fun with Earl! Our goal is to get photos of you and Earl in all 50 states over the next year—and then he can land on your refrigerator as a personal reminder along with our routine cancer screening chart. Find out more about Earl on the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s website. Stay tuned for more details!

LASTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY—Please mark THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 on your calendar, and plan your travel if needed, to attend our 31st Annual Action for Cancer Awareness Awards. Please get it on your spouse's schedule as well! We look forward to coming together to celebrate another year of bipartisan work on behalf of the American people and recognize our 2024 honorees!



SEPTEMBER 19, 2024

31st Annual Action for Cancer Awareness Awards Luncheon Members Room, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2024

30th Annual Prevent Cancer Foundation® Gala National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.

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Rep. Jay and Heather Obernolte with Rep. John and Patti Garamendi (Calif.) (L to R): Tracy Wellington, Rep. Joe Morelle (N.Y.), Shannon Woodward and Stephanie Williams (spouse of Rep. Brandon Williams, N.Y.) Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, Director, National Institutes of Health, is recognized. (L to R): Drs. Pete Pinto and W. Marston Lineham (NIH), with Rep. Ann Eshoo (Calif.), Speaker Emerita Pelosi (Calif.), Dr. Francis Collins, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) Rep. Jim and Lisa McGovern (Mass.) (L to R): Secretary Xavier Becerra (HHS) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas) (L to R): Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Melanie Egorin (HHS)




Site visits with Executive Director Lisa McGovern


When, how and whether to share one’s cancer diagnosis can be one of the most intimate decisions a person faces. Dr. Francis Collins announced his own prostate cancer diagnosis at our spring reception and published in a Washington Post op-ed the next day to reach a national audience. Dr. Collins generously shared his experience to educate the public in hopes that more men will take steps to prevent cancer or detect it early when treatment outcomes are best.

In March, I traveled to New Mexico to meet some exceptional women who also share their stories for the purpose of helping others. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (N.M.) welcomed Erica Childs Warner, Managing Director of Research, Education and Outreach for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and me to her home state to shine a light on Comadre a Comadre, a 2023 Foundation community grantee.

Comadre a Comadre is a culturally and linguistically designed project that provides training to trusted peer educators (known as comadres), who are also breast and cervical cancer survivors, through Placitas (which means “talks” or “chats”). The comadres address barriers to screening and navigating patients to appointments.

Our visit was held at the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNMCCC) where we received a warm welcome from Yolanda (Yoli) Sanchez, Ph.D., Director and CEO of the Center. Elba L. Saavedra Ferrer, Ph.D., Director of the Comadre a Comadre Program, introduced us to several peer educators who are at the heart of the program. We, along with Congresswoman Fernandez, a breast cancer survivor herself who was treated at UNMCCC, listened to the powerful stories of these women, some who are currently undergoing treatment,

and heard about the obstacles they met and resources that helped the women face them.

It is hard to convey the feeling in that room. These women shared so much of themselves — all in service to others. I can only imagine the impact this type of connection has on the many Latinas in New Mexico who they reach in such a deeply personal way.

Congressional Families uses its unique visibility to call attention to the Foundation's community grantees across the U.S. The event attracted media coverage from local CBS, CW and Fox television affiliates and highlighted on social media by all participants.


“You have to see it to believe it.”

Last November, the West Virginia University (WVU) Cancer Institute welcomed Congressional Families Program Executive Council member Charlie Capito (married to Sen. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia), my colleague Kyra Meister and myself to visit LUCAS, its mobile lung cancer screening unit.

“It's a privilege to help shine a light on “the mobile Lung Cancer Screening Unit that is increasing lung cancer screening rates by making them more accessible, literally meeting people where they are by traveling throughout the Mountain State,” Capito said.

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DID YOU KNOW? Drinking alcohol is linked to several cancers, including breast, colorectal, esophageal, oral and liver cancers. If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Our 2024 Congressional Families Research Grant is funding research to change that.

Alcohol is widely present in our culture, from events to movies and television to merchandise. We saw a troubling rise in alcohol usage during the pandemic, no doubt a response to stress and isolation. The good news is recently, we have also seen a rise in the sober curious movement, with people taking time off from drinking to better understand their relationship with alcohol. For some, part of that may be to learn about how it impacts our health.

Built during COVID, it has helped patients feel safe and comfortable, rebuilding trust in the health care system that eroded during the pandemic.

LUCAS is the first fully mobile, artificial intelligence-powered unit for low-dose lung computed tomography (LDCT) cancer screening in the nation. The need for this service in West Virginia is great: The unit visits 42 counties that are without immediate lung cancer screening services. Since 2021, LUCAS has provided over 2,300 screenings. It's a critical service — approximately 200,000 West Virginians are eligible for LDCT screening, but only 5% of those eligible are up to date on their screening.

Inside the 48-foot unit, you’ll find an LDCT scanner and the most caring team imaginable. This includes veterans Eric Reed, the mobile CT technician, and John Trembly, who has


2024 Congressional Families Grant funds research to raise awareness

Addressing Low Awareness of the Cancer Harms of Alcohol in the Population

Jennifer Hay, Ph.D., Attending Psychologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.


Alcohol is responsible for 6% of cancer cases in the U.S. and is only outpaced by tobacco use and excess body weight as cancer risk factors. Alcohol is considered a Group 1 carcinogen, which is the highest level of risk. Currently, 70% of the U.S. population is unaware that drinking alcohol leads to an elevated risk in developing cancer. There has been little research to identify these communication challenges, and public health messaging has not significantly increased population awareness.


This study will identify how best to increase drinkers’ awareness of the increased cancer risk from alcohol use. Overcoming barriers to alcohol and cancer risk awareness will allow drinkers to make more fully informed choices about their alcohol consumption and will be vital for cancer prevention efforts.

Dr. Hay’s hope is that we will soon have the appropriate health knowledge and tools necessary for everyone to make fully informed choices about alcohol use. Her project will lay the groundwork for a larger study to confirm which messages are most informative and effective before disseminating the messages across the U.S.

Read more about awarded researchers and the impact of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s research program at

the challenge of driving LUCAS along the mountainous roads of West Virginia and putting folks at ease as they complete intake paperwork, as well as Anna Baker, a CT technician who, like her colleagues, leaves her family for a week at a time to travel to West Virginia’s most rural areas.

Insurance coverage may vary, but LUCAS serves all eligible people, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, visit

Site visits call attention to resources in our communities in hopes of increasing local screening rates; we also showcase innovation and excellence so it can be replicated across the country and beyond. One of the biggest takeaways from our visit was that WVU and the Prevent Cancer Foundation are partners in hope. With great compassion, WVU built

LUCAS to remove the stigma, shame and fear often felt by people who smoke and who are at greatest risk for lung cancer. We have a shared goal of saving lives by detecting cancer early, because Early Detection = Better Outcomes.

In addition to providing scans, LUCAS serves as a “ginormous billboard for lung cancer screening,” according to Dr. Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, Director of the WVU Cancer Institute.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation is proud to have awarded two grants to help fund LUCAS as part of the Foundation’s community grants program. Learn more at www.

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The Congressional Families Program is a bipartisan, non-political initiative founded in 1991 to increase the public's understanding of cancer prevention and early detection. Members of Congress, their spouses/ partners and families are encouraged to use their visibility to educate the public and inspire action to lead to better health outcomes. The Program offers educational events, materials and a wide range of communications tools. This enables its members to bring the message of cancer prevention and early detection back to their communities, creating a national impact.

Congressional Families Program

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

Congressional Families®

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


The Congressional Families Program offers a variety of communication tools for congressional spouses and members of Congress to use their visibility to educate their communities and constituents about cancer prevention and early detection. This includes monthly op-eds, social media posts (“Posting with a Purpose”) and videos (“Congressional Families: Voices for Cancer Prevention”). Each opportunity is a way to highlight vital information related to monthly cancer observances (e.g., Cervical Cancer Awareness Month) and other relevant occurrences, such as World Cancer Day.

Interested in participating? If you aren’t receiving our email updates, reach out! You can also sign up to record a “Voices for Cancer Prevention” video. We can work with you on a video script and walk you through this easy process that can be done right from your phone! To watch the series on YouTube, visit

Thank you to the following members and spouses who have participated in one or more of these opportunities in recent months:

◗ Rep. Alma Adams (N.C.)

◗ Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.)

◗ Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.)

◗ Sydney Gallego (Ariz.)

◗ Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.)

◗ Martha Hill (Ark.)

◗ Mikey Hoeven (N.D.)

◗ Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (Texas)

◗ Rep. John James (Mich.)

◗ Wayne Kye, D.D.S., M.S. (N.Y.)

◗ Rep. Doris Matsui (Calif.)

◗ Simone-Marie L. Meeks (N.Y.)

◗ Rep. Kweisi Mfume (Md.)

◗ Lorena Saenz Gonzalez (Texas)

◗ Leslie Small (Ga.)

◗ Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.)

◗ Rep. Nikema Williams (Ga.)

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

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