By Nancy Edwards
After being treated for cancer as a child, Fishers resident Mark Cannon decided he would rather put the memory of the disease behind him. Today, he is a passionate advocate for cancer fundraising and research.
Cannon is the ACT Lead for the 5th Congressional District. An ACT Lead implements local, state or federal advocacy activity at the congressional district level by working with American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network staff members and volunteers. ACS CAN is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society and is the nation’s leading cancer advocacy organization. Through ACS CAN, Cannon works every day to make cancer issues a national priority.
Cannon meets with Congress to lobby for additional funding for the National Institute for Health and the Center for Disease Control to fund cancer research and prevention programs. He uses personal stories of those affected by cancer to persuade the legislature.
“Currently, less than 10 percent of the most promising cancer research is funded by the NIH,” Cannon said. “We have to do more to ensure that more people survive this deadly disease.”
At the state level, he has lobbied for a comprehensive smoke-free law to protect Hoosiers from the dangers of second-hand smoke in the workplace.
“Although a smoke-free law was passed to protect most workers, it still leaves too many loopholes, such as bars, taverns and casinos,” he said. “We will continue to work with local government agencies to protect all workers from second-hand smoke.”
The ACS is also working with the state of Indiana for tobacco cessation programs, breast cancer funding, cervical cancer screenings, and PE/health education initiatives.
Currently, cancer is the No. 2 killer of Americans, with more than 500,000 people in the U.S. and more than 35,000 in Indiana affected in 2012.
“I don’t know anyone that will not be touched by cancer at some point in their life,” Cannon said. As a survivor of cancer himself, he said that becoming an advocate for cancer research and prevention programs “has been cathartic for me, Instead of focusing on the negative effects of cancer in my life, I am able to use my experience to help others.”
For the past few years, Cannon has served as the Advocacy Chair for the Relay For Life for Fishers, a fundraising event for ACS. Relay For Life is a 24-hour event held one day each year; teams form from individuals who walk or run for typically one or two hours per shift. There also are on-site fundraisers, such as a silent auction, food sales and other fun moneymakers at the event, which is 24 hours long, because, according to Cannon, “cancer never sleeps.” The next Relay For Life event will be held June 1, 2013, at Holland Park in Fishers.
Cannon encourages residents to choose an organization of their choice in Hamilton County or the surrounding counties that need volunteers.
“Everyone has gifts and talents that can benefit the community,” he said. “Everyone has a cause that is important to them and these organizations need your help. Besides helping others, you will be surprised how much you will help yourself. To quote Booker T. Washington, ‘if you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.’ ”
For more information about the American Cancer Society, contact Cannon at firstname.lastname@example.org, go to www.acscan.org for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network or www.cancer.org for the American Cancer Society.