Consumer Involvement Banner
Image of a woman who is smiling

Photos and text used with permission of
Ms. Gail Baird.

"Logic tells me people die of many things, but cancer has taken too many of my loved ones. When I was 5, leukemia took my 25-year-old aunt. At 9, I was awakened in the night for an unexpected tripůmy grandfather was dying of kidney cancer. Then, at 19, I was called out of a college class and told to get homeůmy 49-year-old father was dying of colon cancer. I've also lost a cousin and grandmother to cancer. From my perspective, everyone dies of cancer and I knew cancer was in my future. I was 42 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew I still had a lot of living to do and lots of events to share with my family. I knew I couldn't leave my two boys without a mother. I knew I also had to get actively involved in the war on cancer.

"My last two job positions have allowed me to reach into the community to educate about the importance of screening and taking care of your health to prevent cancer. I currently am Coordinator of Community Benefits at Saint Alphonsus Cancer Care Center, one of two local cancer treatment facilities. My primary role is community outreach ů cancer screening and prevention education. I also serve as liaison with cancer nonprofit organizations in the area-the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the Komen Boise Race for the Cure. I also work with our state Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and the Comprehensive Cancer Alliance of Idaho, the program charged with developing a cancer strategic plan for Idaho.

"It is through my work with the Idaho Breast and Cervical Cancer Alliance, a volunteer organization formed to support the state Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, that I first learned of research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. Not realizing that it was a nomination process, several years ago I tried to find out on my own how to get involved. I was not successful at that time, but when the opportunity presented itself to be nominated as a consumer reviewer recently, I jumped at the chance. And now that I have completed my first review, I know it is something I need to continue to do. Not only is the program crucial to the continuation of needed research, it provides me with an opportunity to exercise my thinking skills in new ways.

"My volunteerism has focused mainly on the American Cancer Society (ACS) over the last 15 years, and my focus has evolved from fundraising events to advocacy over the years, although I continue to serve on the local advisory board and remain active as a participant in ACS events. I have participated in national legislative advocacy since 2002 and currently serve as the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network State Lead for Idaho. In 2005, I was named Volunteer of the Year, and in 2006 I was surprised with the St. George National Award, presented in 'recognition of outstanding contributions to the control of cancer.'

"When people ask me why I continue to be so involved, my answer is simple... I believe. I believe the answers to cancer lie in research. Through the commitment of dedicated scientists, breakthroughs will occur. Through my advocacy and involvement, I believe I can impact how our Congress funds the war on cancer. And if I reach one person a day with a cancer message, I have done my job."