Less Cancer Founder, Bill Couzens Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Thank you for being here today my name is Bill Couzens, Founder of Less Cancer and Next Generation Choices Foundation, on behalf of the board of directors we want to extend our Heartfelt gratitude to Congressman Steve Israel for the introduction and sponsorship of the National Cancer Prevention Day Resolution.

And thank you Colleen Nguyen from Congressman Israel’s office for her work in helping to make this event happen.

I am personally grateful to Congressman Israel who’s leadership in bringing much-needed attention towards helping to shift a culture towards education, awareness and policies in an effort to work towards reducing incidences of cancer all together.

There are several types of cancer days, even a cancer prevention month; however this is the day that specifically asks law makers to consider what they too can do to shift the paradigm on cancer.

Cancer Prevention Day is more than a feel good resolution that says I’m on board!

Cancer Prevention Day is all about preventing cancer and the reminder to lawmakers that they like their constituents; they too have the influence to consider both environment and human health when voting.

Without ownership, preventing cancer is someone else’s problem – the time is right now to prevent cancer not in theory but in action!

We are here today because, sadly, what we do know is that there are now increasing incidences of some cancers- not less but in fact more.

Scientists and Federal agencies tell us that a large numbers of cancer can be prevented and that two-thirds of cancer is thought to come from outside of the body, as opposed to the 1/3 thought to be genetic.

Because of that we need to reexamine the choices we make and realize if there is a possibility to further understand cancer risks.

We now know we can limit cancer risks in cases like tobacco, sunlight, viruses, alcohol, obesity and some chemicals.

When we work to prevent cancer risks, it impacts human health, the environment and the economy.

When we work for Less Cancer – reduced incidences of cancer we inturn address illnesses such as Diabetes, Asthma, Heart Disease and Obesity.

The environment influences cancer rates and risks.

We can see this by comparing cancer rates in different countries, and how rates change when people move from one country to another.

For example, U.S.-born Japanese men have twice the rate of colon cancer as native-born Japanese men, and U.S.-born Japanese women have colon cancer rates 40 percent higher than their counterparts born in Japan.

As Less Cancer approaches a decade of work in the area of prevention what we know is if we are to ever reach the goal of reducing incidences of cancer we must work together and we must work smarter.

We must continue with the evidenced-based science, but we also must proceed with policies that work specifically with the notion of reducing incidences of cancer.

When Richard Nixon launched the War on Cancer in 1971 – I was 12 years old, and since then we have suffered untold incidences of cancer and spent billions of dollars.

We know issues such as obesity are not just about appearance but is rather a serious cancer risk.

Childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled from the 1970′s through 2004.

And no surprise the Department of Health and Human Services report that food and beverage advertisers collectively spend $10 to $12 billion annually to reach children and youth: more than $1 billion is spent on media advertising to children (primarily on television); more than $4.5 billion is spent on youth-targeted public relations; and $3 billion is spent on packaging design.

And while the focus for cancer has been on the cure- we have won some battles – but thus far are losing the war.

Seemingly cancer has become an expected stage of life.

Startling statistics indicate that between 1975 and 2004, increased incidences of primary brain cancer have increased nearly 40 percent, while leukemia has increased over 60 percent among children 14 years and younger.

In my own family -my mother Joan, my sister Anne,and  in the last 8 months, my brother in-law Mike, and my brother Frank all dead from cancer.

Several others in my life both family and friends continue battling this dreaded disease.

Cancer explodes lives, families, and finances.

There are no winners.

I know this not only through my journey but because I hear in a significant way.

Less Cancer has social networks in the range of 100,000 users in over 20 Countries and as many languages. I hear, first hand, from the many who know what I know and see what I see.

They, too, seek prevention.

They, too, seek awareness,

They, too, seek education, advocacy and policies that will work to prevent cancer.

And that’s exactly what we ask for: Less Cancer.

The work for Less Cancer does not happen by accident or on a whim but rather with expanded thought and effective strategies and the efforts of many.

For 10 years we have worked towards shifting a culture.

That shift is happening.

The shift is happening through education, awareness, advocacy and policy.

Less Cancers work is being done on the ground from here in Washington, DC-Virginia to New Hampshire, Michigan and across North America.

This last December we had an event for Less Cancer where we were able to create synergies  and partnerships with several volunteers who with Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation we were able to start the LessCancer.org Prevention Fund.

But our work ripples beyond 50 states. Our impact is far-reaching in the social networks with users from places like Dhaka, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. Those users are between the ages of 18-24 and often our most frequent users on Less Cancer pages on Facebook.

Young people reaching out from places where cancer is seemingly so devastating that there is not really a universal understanding of the magnitude cancer.

The work for Less Cancer does not stop.

Just ask my family.

Thanks to Congressman Israel, last year was the first resolution for National Cancer Prevention Day.

Since, we have continued to reach out to states and their law-makers for Cancer Prevention Day in individual states on February 4th.

Those states lawmakers include; State Senator Jill Vogel in Virginia, State Senator Bert Johnson in Michigan, State Senator Nancy Stiles, State Representative Tom Sherman,MD  and Governor Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.

We have board member Veronique Pittman, here from New York who has been on the ground since our founding now close to a decade ago.

Thank you Veronique, Pam Taylor and Ann Colley who traveled from New York. Your efforts are so appreciated and I am so grateful you are here with us today.

Martha Fruehauf from Charlottesville, Virginia and Suzi Tobias from Fort Worth, Texas who have been so helpful in advancing the Less Cancer mission.

This July 20th Suzi and Martha have committed to raising funds and awareness for Less Cancer riding 300 miles on behalf of Less Cancer.

Both Suzi and Martha will be riding concurrently with the famed Port Huron to Mackinac Sailboat race starting on July 20th.  Their ride is part of a larger program called the Less Cancer Challenge 300 where we ask people to move -ride, walk run 300 miles in the month of July.

The challenge is virtual and online. You can do your 300 miles in the month of July on your stationary bike in San Francisco or your rowing machine in Roanoke.  Thank you ladies.

Additionally, I want to recognize Catherine Reynolds, a 12th grader at the Foxcroft School, in Middleburg Virginia who along with classmates last year rallied her class and community to raise funds and awareness for Less Cancer. Catherine is our youngest Annie Award recipient—an award named after my sister Anne Couzens.  Catherine’s ability to move her classmates to get behind the cause not only raised funds but also awareness to a critical demographic about lifestyle choices and increased cancer risk.

Catherine’s understanding of the need for prevention is both impressive and beyond her years.

Catherine,  I would like to present you with the Annie Award.

Next I would like to recognize and thank Erica Wiley and then Suzi Tobias and Martha Fruehauf who will be speaking after me.

I also want to recognize Less Cancer board member Stormy Stokes who is here with her son Peter—who wanted to be here because he, even at his young age, knows the loss cancer can bring.  His New Year’s resolution: to stop cancer.

Erica Wiley, Less Cancer supporter is here today who first hand has seen the devastation of cancer. Her 6 year-old son Hugh died last year and in that time she was witness to the countless other children sick with cancer.

Peter, I know Hugh was your friend and I want you to know we all loved Hugh and that is exactly our intention and why we are here today to prevent cancer.

The time is now to have policies that work to prevent cancer – moving forward we ask law makers when voting that they consider human health and the environment and that whenever they vote they vote Less Cancer.

Thank you.

So now if you would welcome Erica Wiley. (END)