It’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to set up a virtual or possibly even in-person meeting with your local representative and senators. You could choose to meet with someone from the federal and/or state level, as there will be policy activity at both the state and federal levels in 2023. That means now is the perfect time to introduce yourself and start to establish a relationship.
❖Use the LUNGevity Action Network site to find your legislators by visiting the “Take Action” page. The “Find Your Legislator” option is at the bottom of the page; enter your address to find your US senators and representatives and their DC office information. Select who you want to reach out to and send an email or make a phone call to set up your appointment.
It’s also valuable to set up an appointment with your state representatives as some of the legislative activities that will impact lung cancer patients are being legislated by elected officials in your state. You can find your state representatives through the Open States website. Regardless of whether you reach out to federal or state representatives, you’ll find that some are meeting people virtually, but depending on where you live, COVID-19 protocols may allow in-person meetings.
❖ You are the expert! No matter what your role, your lung cancer experience is valuable and will provide an important learning opportunity for your legislative representative and their staff. This is a chance to share your knowledge about lung cancer, diagnosis and treatment decisions, caregiver experiences, and any other important aspects of the lung cancer experience you think should be highlighted. Be confident in your ability to help your legislator learn about this disease.
❖ Do some research on your legislative official who you will meet with. Do you have anything in common, such as where you went to school or a shared hobby? Does the legislator you are meeting with have a connection to lung cancer?
❖ Although there are still many divisions in political identity, now is the time to set these differences of opinion aside to find opportunities to connect and share your lung cancer experience.
❖ Dial in or show up at the predesignated meeting location, such as the legislator’s office. Be sure to be on time.
❖ There will be some introductions (it’s possible there will be more people in the meeting than just the legislator, such as staff and other experts).
❖ There is a good chance that you will meet with a staffer and not your representative. This is very common. It does not mean that your meeting has less impact.
❖ You might start off by talking about your connection to the state or district they represent, if you work locally, and anything else that establishes your identity with the state or city you have in common with the legislator.
❖ After that, you can say you would like to speak to them about your personal lung cancer experience. Talk about your experience with diagnosis and treatment decisions, what hospital(s) you get care at, and any challenges you have with accessing biomarker testing or treatments. Speak about the experience with the disease during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a caregiver or HCP, speak about your unique role supporting people with lung cancer and challenges you may have faced in your role.
❖ Don’t forget to add that you would love to stay in touch around legislation that affects cancer patients and caregivers.
❖ Make sure to watch the time during your meeting. At the start of the meeting, ask the legislative official how much time they have to meet. Remember, this is just the first meeting for you to develop a relationship with your legislator. You can always follow up via email, telephone, or scheduling another video conference/visit.
❖ After the meeting, send a follow-up email thanking the legislator for their time and sharing any follow-up information that they requested. Feel free to ask LUNGevity if they asked for something specific to lung cancer that we can support. Let them know you will be back in touch when relevant lung cancer legislation is introduced in their state/federal level.