We’re welcoming in a new season – and we’re not talking about spring. It’s “Dear Colleague” letter season, of course!

What is “Dear Colleague” letter season and why should you care? You’ve come to the right place to find out.

First, we’ll start with what it is. A “Dear Colleague” letter is an official piece of communication written by members of Congress and is used to encourage their colleagues to support, cosponsor, or to oppose a bill or issue.

In the context of PanCAN, the emails we send you asking you to contact your members of Congress to urge them to sign their name to support increased funding for pancreatic cancer research – they’re signing their name to a “Dear Colleague” letter.

The goal is to get as many signatures in support of the letter as possible so when it comes time to pass the federal spending bills, members of Congress can see how much of a priority it should be.

Why should you care? Right now, PanCAN is fortunate to have dedicated champions in Congress who lead our cause. Our champions are currently circulating a letter in the House led by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), John Joyce (R-PA), André Carson (D-IN), Lisa McClain (R-MI) and Terri Sewell (D-AL).

This letter is requesting signatures in support of $20 million to be included for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program at the Department of Defense this year. This is the only federal program with funding dedicated exclusively to pancreatic cancer research, so support is a must.

Nearly every health-focused organization, including PanCAN, advocates for increased federal funding at the National Institutes of Health or the National Cancer Institute, so the collective voices urging for increased funding are loud. Almost 2 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Now add on their families, friends, colleagues and more who will raise their voices to Congress to support federal funding for those cancers. It’s a lot more people making noise to get noticed by Congress.

Now consider pancreatic cancer. This year 64,050 Americans will be diagnosed. As a smaller community, we need more of us, including you, to not just make noise on Capitol Hill, but to be so loud Congress can’t ignore us.

We are the only community asking Congress to support the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program, and we all need to take action so our voices can be heard.

For the majority of Congress, signing this letter may be the only opportunity they have to show their support of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program and influence whether or not it ends up being funded. And for the letters to have the best chance at success, they need broad, bipartisan support from across the country.

Remember, funding for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program is not renewed every year, so it is up to us to make sure Congress includes it in each year’s spending bills and encourage the funding to grow.

Make sure you take action and contact your members of Congress when our advocacy team emails you next. There is a deadline for the letter, so it’s important we show up quickly and in force to get the action we need.

So far, we have successfully gotten the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program funded every year since its inception in 2019, meaning $51 million has gone to dedicated pancreatic cancer research to date.

You make progress happen on Capitol Hill and we couldn’t be more grateful.

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Have your members of Congress signed on to support an increase in federal funding for pancreatic cancer research? If so, say "thanks!" The more they hear from you, the more they’ll know how important our cause is! See if your members of Congress signed!