Area woman takes fight to Capitol Hill

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 9, 2004

A Monticello woman will be part of a national effort today tourge federal lawmakers to make fighting cancer a nationalpriority.

Susan Martindale is one of two Mississippians in Washington thisweek for today’s American Cancer Society’s Annual Lobby Day. Shehas been in Washington since Tuesday attending training andseminars before returning Friday.

“Increasing funding for cancer research is one of the biggestthings we want to bring to the forefront,” Martindale said.

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Also on the agenda today is urging lawmakers to give the Foodand Drug Administration “meaningful regulatory authority” overtobacco products and support of a legislation to help patientsnavigate the bureaucracy of health care systems. The tobaccoauthority legislation targets advertising and stopping the illegalsale of product to children, while the navigator bill is designedto improve efficiency of service delivery.

“We want to be a part of making a change,” said Martindale aboutthe lobbying efforts.

Martindale said both of her parents smoked and she attributedtheir deaths to tobacco. She was chairwoman of the MississippiTobacco Coalition several years ago and has led the ACS LawrenceCounty Relay for Life the past two years.

“If we can find a cure for cancer, there’ll be a lot lesssuffering” for patients and their families, Martindale said.

In addition to other focus areas, Martindale said providingfunds to allow the buyout of farmers’ tobacco crops is anothergoal. That could help farmers find another way to make aliving.

“I feel like what they’re raising is killing people,” Martindalesaid.

Martindale said she hopes to be able to meet with congressmenpersonally today, but sometimes only staff members are availabledue to scheduling. She said she was honored to be part of the lobbyeffort and was ready for the challenge.

“There’ll be people from all over the U.S. there,” Martindalesaid. “It’s really a good time to network and see what people aredoing not only nationally but also on a state level.”