By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - September 22, 2023
Moffitt Cancer Center leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to rally support for cancer care, prevention and research, as well as honor three U.S. representatives who have been instrumental to the cause.
Just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol and congressional office buildings, dozens filled a hotel ballroom dotted with circular tables. At the center of each table were photos of the Moffitt team members behind our exceptional care and transformative research. This luncheon honored three House members who are making an impact to advance policy and increase research funding to help patients and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
Moffitt President and CEO Dr. Patrick Hwu bestowed the Moffitt Momentum Award to U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, Kathy Castor and Steve Scalise. The award, which was created in 2008, recognizes outstanding public servants who have been tireless advocates for those facing cancer.
Buchanan has been a longtime supporter of Moffitt. He has advocated for groundbreaking immunotherapies, such as CAR T-cell therapy, making sure Medicare patients have access to these treatments. He has helped Moffitt receive funding for our new SouthShore center being built in Ruskin and opening in 2024. He is also preparing to introduce legislation that would expedite access to new blood tests for the early detection of lung cancer.
“My job is to be a representative for my district. To work with institutions there, like Moffitt, to figure out what they need and help them get it,” Buchanan said. “While I appreciate this award, it’s Moffitt’s world class care that deserves the recognition. We are lucky to have such great facilities in our region.”
Castor came up the ranks with Buchanan and they have worked together over the years to support Moffitt. Castor’s efforts have helped the cancer center increase awareness and provide resources to improve cancer screening and prevention. She has spearheaded legislation, such as the PREVENT HPV Cancers Act and the Increasing Access to Lung Cancer Screening Act. She has also helped Moffitt secure funding for super computers to drive our machine learning and AI research and to establish a mobile lung screening unit to serve communities across Florida.
“Moffitt is a special place. What I see at Moffitt is a team that is providing hope and saving lives and doing it with respect. I accept this award on behalf of all the families affected by cancer and to let them know that Congress is united in standing up for you and keeping innovative advancements and research going,” Castor said.
House Majority Leader Scalise was unable to attend the event due to a recent diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
“Congressman Scalise’s personal compassion for those affected by cancer has been a driving force behind his advocacy. He has taken the time to listen to patients, caregivers and health care providers, gaining invaluable insights into the challenges they face and the improvements that are needed,” Hwu said.
Alyene Mlinar, policy adviser to Scalise, accepted the award on his behalf. “Leader Scalise regrets not being able to attend today but wants to thank you for this honor. He completed his first round of chemotherapy this week and is doing well. He looks forward to getting back to work,” she said.