So…THIS is happening!

1 May

… and was officially just noticed in the Senate:


Bill Nelson, Chairman
Susan M. Collins, Ranking Member


The Fight Against Cancer: Challenges, Progress, and Promise

May 7, 2014

2:15 PM

Dirksen Room 562

  • Harold E. Varmus, MD, Director, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • Valerie Harper, Actress and Cancer Survivor
  • Thomas Sellers, PhD, MPH, Director, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute
  • Mary Dempsey, Assistant Director and Co-Founder, The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing
  • Chip Kennett, Advocate and Cancer Survivor

Most cancer diagnoses occur in those aged 65 and older, and this portion of the population is rapidly growing. In addition, because of advances in research, a huge number of diagnosed individuals now “live with cancer.” New treatments for diseases that were once fatal means someone diagnosed at a young age, for instance, now will “age” with cancer, either living with cancer for a period of many years or fighting cancer and surviving earlier in life and aging with the impact of those treatments. Still another subset of those are fighting cancers that are still as-yet incurable and rely on the absolute latest of clinical trials to prolong their lives until a cure can be found. Clearly, both the advances and the demographics of those with cancer has changed since even the last Senate hearing on cancer six years ago.

This hearing will highlight each one of these factors and why innovations in cancer research are so important to confronting this trend, while also illustrating the progress that has been made against cancer because of the dedicated work of researchers, clinicians, patients, and advocates. In addition to stressing the importance of federal funding through the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, witnesses will also cover the specific areas of treatment and survivorship.


1) Dr. Harold Varmus, Director, The National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Varmus will provide an update on the Federal government’s work to get the latest advances to patients.

2) Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, MPH: Executive Vice-President and Director, Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center, Tampa, FL. Dr. Sellers will present research progress and challenges from the ground.

3) Mary Dempsey, Director, The Patrick Dempsey Cancer Center for Hope and Healing in Lewiston, Maine. Ms. Dempsey will talk about the services and supports needed today by cancer patients outside of medical treatment including help with finances, caregiver support, emotional and nutrition counseling, etc…and the trends she sees most often today from her vantage point and where we could improve.

4) Valerie Harper, a celebrity and survivor with Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC), a rare complication of cancer in the brain. Ms. Harper has survived nearly a year after her prognosis.

5) Bayard W. Kennett (Chip). Chip is an advocate, survivor and former Collins/Congressional staffer battling Stage IV terminal ALK+ non-small cell lung cancer. Chip will speak about his diagnosis and living with an extremely recalcitrant form of an already difficult to treat stage IV lung cancer.

Gulp!! I mean, Chip and I actually know better than to agree to do something like this, but when one of our good friends and former colleague of mine, Rachel Pryor, shot me an e-mail about a month ago wanting to know if she could pick my brain on a hearing she wanted to do in the Committee, I enthusiastically said yes. She and I met for coffee at Peregrine (my new fave!!) one morning and spent a solid three hours crying, laughing, discussing life and of course, this hearing. One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, Senators Susan Collins and Bill Nelson invited Chip to testify.

Anybody who has ever worked on the Hill usually adds to NEVER testify before a House or Senate Committee to their bucket list, but as Chip said, being invited is way better than being subpoenaed to testify. Four years ago, Chip was writing hearing questions for Senator Collins and staffing her at hearings, and on Wednesday, he will find himself on the opposite side of the dais answering questions from the Senator and other members of the Senate Aging Committee.

I am super proud of Chip for wanting to do this. As I’ve told a few people, he is on the panel with some really big names like Harold Varmus and Valerie Harper…you know, Mary Tyler Moore! Chip kindly informed me that Mary Tyler Moore was actually Mary Tyler Moore, and Valerie Harper was Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show to which I rolled my eyes and mockingly threw up some air quotes while mouthing “details…”

– Sheila


4 Responses to “So…THIS is happening!”

  1. Sean A. Taylor May 2, 2014 at 1:43 PM #

    NO SHIT, that’s AMAZING!!! I’m bringing a sign!


  2. Sydney May 2, 2014 at 2:01 PM #

    I will be there to support! Very proud of you and Chip and so glad you have this platform.

  3. Elizabeth May 2, 2014 at 2:12 PM #

    Not sure what all this means (’cause, you know, I can’t even remember who TRIED to teach us about gov’t in high school….lol), but it does sound huge! Good luck, Chip!

  4. missy39 May 2, 2014 at 2:59 PM #

    So exciting!!! Brave you are

    Sent from my iPhone


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