U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 1st District

Your brother, former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, was featured in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2013, in which he shared his moving story of surviving colon cancer. He tragically lost his subsequent battle against melanoma. Could you share how your brother’s battles against cancer, and those of others close to you, have influenced your work in Congress?

My brother, Mike, was my role model. He served in Congress before me and taught me a lot about being a brother, friend, and how to best serve the people of Pennsylvania. His courageous battle with cancer showed me his values of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. I want to do right by him and help those around me in any way I can. I will continue to serve and will work towards helping find solutions to better cancer screening, research, and treatment.

How has that personal experience shaped your approach to health policy and the importance of funding for cancer screening, prevention, and research?

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. It is a disease that affects so many people and their families, including myself. I also have dedicated a lot of my efforts to raising awareness for pediatric cancer research. That is why I introduced the bipartisan Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act, which takes steps to ensure pediatric cancer researchers have the funding necessary to save the many lives of children fighting cancer. There are few things more heart- wrenching than seeing a child battle cancer. No child should ever have to suffer through the pain of cancer, nor should any parent have to watch their child struggle and fight to survive. If I’m able to play even a small role
in helping citizens in our country be better protected against cancer, I am going to do it.

Which policy priorities or legislative efforts do you share that would fuel better prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer?

I have made it my mission to sign on to legislation that will help advance cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. It is important that all Americans, regardless of their wealth and where they live, have access to cancer screening. I recently introduced the Screening for Communities to Receive Early and Equitable Needed Services (SCREENS) for Cancer Act, which would make screening services for breast and cervical cancer more widely available to women in America. Early testing for cancer saves lives and the SCREENS for Cancer Act is a step in the right direction at putting an end to cancer deaths.

I have also made cancer research funding a top priority throughout my time in Congress. That is why this Congress I introduced the KO Cancer Act, which aims to provide a once-in-a-generation massive investment in cancer research funding, increasing cancer research funding allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 25 percent, to reflect that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. Current federal funding levels for cancer research do not match the rate at which people are suffering and dying from this lethal disease. Legislation like this is for all of the victims, survivors, families, and friends whose lives have been impacted by cancer. As is the case for so many in America, this fight is personal to me. We must not stop until we eradicate this disease forever and spare parents, children, and families the pains of cancer.

What is your message to the scientists and physicians working to make progress against cancer?

Thank you for what you’re doing to advance medicine and treatment for those suffering from cancer and other long-term illnesses. Your efforts are valued and appreciated, regardless of the results they produce. These studies introduce new ideas, knowledge, and perspectives on ways to treat cancer patients and I look forward to the day when we find the answer we’ve been searching for and can put an end to cancer deaths across the world.