In 2016, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network advocates raised their voice and moved the needle toward our goal of doubling survival by 2020. The work of our advocates in urging Congress to make cancer research a priority is a critical part of reaching our 2020 goal, as approximately 80 percent of all pancreatic cancer research funding comes directly from the federal government. A more robust pancreatic cancer research program and increased federal funding is vital to make progress in this disease. Our grassroots advocates play an important role in ensuring that happens.

Here are the highlights of an extraordinary year of grassroots advocacy:

YOU Increased Federal Funding for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Our key priority in 2016 was to get Congress to increase federal research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), including funding for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot.

Over 17,000 advocates heeded our call throughout 2016 and sent nearly 50,000 messages to Congress. Our advocates helped put a $2 billion increase for the NIH on the table for Congress’ consideration and nearly got it over the finish line. When it became apparent that Congress would pass a short-term funding package—Continuing Resolution (CR)—and fund the vast majority of federal programs at 2016 levels, your advocacy resulted in a CR which provided an additional $300 million in cancer research funding specifically for the Cancer Moonshot. This six percent increase is an impressive accomplishment, as it happened in a year when most other programs will be flat funded.

  • For the last two years, we have been pushing Congress to pass legislation that creates a new funding stream for the NIH, which would deliver funding over and above what is provided in the traditional appropriations process. Thousands of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network supporters took action and on December 7, 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which authorizes Congress to create a new funding stream for the NIH! Specifically, the bill authorizes $4.8 billion in new funding for the NIH over the next ten years, including $1.8 billion for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative over the next seven years.
  • Thanks to messages from our supporters, both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees approved keeping pancreatic cancer in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program. This year, we secured over a 20 percent increase in the number of legislators who supported this request. Since 2011 pancreatic cancer has been included in this program resulting in 32 pancreatic cancer grants being funded for a total of $12.2 million.
  • Through the efforts of our dedicated advocates, 94 bi-partisan members of Congress joined the Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers, indicating that they stand with us as we WAGE HOPE against pancreatic and other cancers with a five-year survival rate below 50 percent. We increased membership 154 percent between the 113th and 114th Congress.

You Raised Your Voice and Congress Heard You

We cannot attribute our success on Capitol Hill in 2016 to just one phone call, email or congressional visit — but rather to the strength of our over 17,000 advocates who responded quickly and consistently to our calls-to-action to urge Congress to increase federal funding for medical research.

  • Nearly 600 supporters from across the country participated in National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of lawmakers met directly with survivors, caregivers, researchers and advocates and heard their personal stories of why cancer research funding simply cannot wait.
  • Leading up to Advocacy Day, more than 7,000 advocates created an echo chamber on the Hill – signing petitions, making phone calls and sending emails – to ensure every member of Congress heard our priorities loud and clear.
  • Following Advocacy Day, our volunteer Advocacy Leaders reinforced our message by scheduling more than 50 meetings with their legislators back home during the August recess.
  • More than 50 members of Congress participated in World Pancreatic Cancer Day in response to the nearly 10,000 messages our grassroots advocates sent. Not only did federal lawmakers wear purple, they helped spread the powerful message of why we #WageHope to their thousands of followers across social media.
  • In addition, more than 600 state and local governments joined the fight against pancreatic cancer and recognized World Pancreatic Cancer Day on November 17 through official proclamations.

We Wage Hope as One United Voice

The passage of the 21st Century Cures Act with the inclusion of funding specifically for cancer research is a testament to the hard work and determination of thousands of our advocates nationwide. Getting this legislation over the finish line represents who we are – that we won’t take no for an answer and we never give up.

To change the course of history for pancreatic cancer and double survival by 2020, it is critical that we continue to amplify our message and make our presence known amongst our nation’s policy makers in the New Year. Anyone who cares about this cause can become an advocate for pancreatic cancer – join us and be a part of making history for pancreatic cancer research in 2017.

P.S. Don’t want to wait until 2017 to help make an impact? Please make a donation today to show how you are committed to making a difference in the fight against pancreatic cancer.