Women Engaged In Fight Against Prostate Cancer Take Advocacy Effort to Capitol Hill

Friday, July 16, 2010

BUFFALO, NY — Standing ringside, observing their spouses and loved ones as they battled prostate cancer, wasn’t enough for a group of Western New York women.

Looking to play an active role, to be more engaged in the fight the men in their lives were waging, these “boxers” formed the first affiliate of the national organization Women Against Prostate Cancer (WAPC), a chapter supported by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). Less than a year later, they’re helping WAPC to make elected federal officials aware of its goals and priorities through the inaugural Women Against Prostate Cancer Advocacy Day July 20 in Washington, DC.

In connection with this first annual advocacy effort, Joan Peck will join RPCI Executive Director for Governmental Affairs Lisa Damiani on the trip to Washington for WAPC Advocacy Day. In all, about 40 women from around the country will travel to the nation’s capital July 19 for issues training coordinated by WAPC. Then, on July 20, they’ll visit with various members of the U.S. Congress to share their stories and advocate for funding for prostate cancer research and clinical trials.

Joan Peck, President of the Western New York Chapter of WAPC, said it became clear shortly after the period of “utter shock and confusion” surrounding her husband’s diagnosis that she and other women would benefit from having their own support group to help them learn more about prostate cancer and deal with its effects.

“Prostate cancer is a family disease. You’re definitely affected as much as your spouse,” she says. Since the WNY Chapter held its first meeting at RPCI in September 2009, about a dozen women have met monthly, hearing from medical experts, talking openly about intimacy issues and finding diversion in massage therapy and music therapy. “We’re trying to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves too,” says Peck, whose daughters, Kristen Peck of Pittsburgh, PA, and Kate Peck of Boston, MA, will also be taking part in WAPC Advocacy Day.

The disparity in federal funding for common forms of cancer will be a focus of her conversations with congressional delegates, Peck notes. “The numbers of new prostate cancer and breast cancer cases we’ll see in this country this year are about the same —roughly 200,000 new cases of both — yet federal funding for prostate cancer research is 40 percent less than for breast cancer,” she says. “We’re very vocal about the need to make prostate cancer a national legislative priority, and that’s what this trip is all about.”

To speak with these women who are making a difference both locally and beyond as leaders of the first-ever chapter of WAPC, contact Annie Deck-Miller at 716-845-8593 or annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

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Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org