Eunice Hostetter was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer in 2003 and in the almost decade and a half since then, there have been a number of advances in research that have led to new treatments and life-saving drugs for people with similar a diagnosis.
It is because of these advances that the long-time Kirkland resident has spent the last dozen years advocating on behalf of cancer patients. That advocacy includes volunteering with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
According to an ACS CAN press release, the organization is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. The organization “supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority,” the release states.
For two years, Hostetter has been ACS CAN’s State Lead Ambassador. In this role, she has worked to further the organization’s mission by leading volunteers statewide in working with local, state and federal lawmakers on policies to fight cancer.
Before becoming the state lead, Hostetter was the lead volunteer for Washington’s 1st Congressional District — a position her daughter now holds.
TAKING IT TO A NATIONAL LEVEL
Hostetter’s work is ongoing and includes writing letters and and calling lawmakers. In addition to this year-round work, she recently attended the ACS CAN Leadership Summit and Lobby Day from Sept. 10-13, in Washington, D.C.
While there, Hostetter was named the ACS CAN State Lead Ambassador of the Year, “for her tireless volunteer and advocacy efforts,” an ACS CAN press release states. The annual award is presented to a lead state volunteer who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advocating for ACS CAN’s area of cancer-related public policy.
“I was deeply honored to receive to this award,” Hostetter said. “ACS CAN advocates are a powerful force in the fight against cancer. I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had as a volunteer to contribute my time, energy and passion to making a difference.”
In the release, ACS CAN president Chris Hansen said, “As the ACS CAN State Lead Ambassador, Eunice Hostetter has empowered her fellow Washingtonians to advocate for the many cancer patients and survivors in the state and across the country. We are thankful for Eunice’s outstanding work on cancer-fighting public policies that’s proven to save lives.”
MORE WORK TO BE DONE
Saving lives is one of the reasons Hostetter volunteers.
She said her family has been hit hard by cancer. A total of 18 relatives in three generations of both her and her husband’s families have been diagnosed. Through her volunteer work, she has become more aware of the burden cancer becomes on not just the patients, but everyone in their communities as well as throughout the country.
Hostetter said despite the fact that people who are diagnosed with cancer are living longer, there is still a lot of pain and suffering and 1,600 people still die from cancer every day.
She added that while she has been cancer free for 14 years, there is a chance that the cancer can come back and if it does, thanks to research, there is a new lifesaving treatment out there for her.
“That’s why research is so critical,” she said.
In addition to her volunteer work with ACS CAN, the release states that she has volunteered with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life for 14 years and last year, she was appointed to Gov. Jay Inslee’s Cancer Research Endowment board to help guide and oversee the state’s investments in cancer research. Hostetter has also chaired the ACS CAN Washington Research Breakfast the last two years.
“Eunice is the definition of what a volunteer leader should be,” Mary McHale, ACS CAN Washington government relations director, said in the release. “One of the best things about our organization is our top-notch passionate volunteers, and you don’t get any more dedicated than Eunice. ACS CAN is thrilled to recognize Eunice for her leadership and tireless dedication to fighting cancer. The Washington team would not be the same without her.”
A FOCUSED MESSAGE
Hostetter was among about 700 cancer patients, survivors and volunteers from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam (representatives from Puerto Rico could not make it due to Hurricane Irma) to attend the summit and lobby day event.
The annual event unites the cancer community and Congress to make cancer a national priority.
Hostetter said the multi-day event included two days of training so everyone could deliver the same message to their respective elected officials. And that message focused on three areas.
The first area was to increase federal funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health. Hostetter said they asked for an increase of $2 billion, bringing the total funding to $36 billion. According to the Lobby Day website, this includes an increase of $300 million for the National Cancer Institute, bringing that total to $6 billion for the 2018 fiscal year.
The second area of focus was to ask their elected officials to support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act, a bill that would improve patients’ quality of life.
The final focus was to ask lawmakers to cosponsor the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act, which is a bill that would make colon cancer screenings more affordable and accessible for senior citizens on Medicare.
AN EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY DISEASE
Hostetter has taken her voice to the other Washington for several years and said she and her fellow volunteers have always received a high level of support. She added that with last year’s passing of the 21st Century Cures Act and Cancer Moonshot initiative, it was the first time she felt the fight against cancer had become a national priority.
The impression Hostetter got from this year’s trip was that lawmakers’ support continues to increase.
“Cancer is an equal-opportunity disease,” she said about the bipartisan support the cause has received. “Cancer isn’t political.”
In addition to speaking with lawmakers about the three focus points, delegates from Washington presented Sen. Patty Murray with the National Distinguished Advocacy Award, ACS CAN’s highest honor.
“She’s championed so many of our causes,” Hostetter said about Murray.
Murray received the honor alongside San Francisco supervisor Malia Cohen. The two women were recognized for championing lifesaving cancer public policy.
Hostetter said presenting Murray with the award was a proud moment and Murray told the Washington delegates that ACS CAN is the most powerful advocacy group in the country.
“When your senator makes a statement like that, I don’t know what to say,” Hostetter said about how gratifying and honored they were to hear those words.