TAMPA, Florida - A group of volunteer advocates from Moffitt Cancer Center are on their way to Tallahassee to push for increased funding for cancer research and medical education. It's a part of an event called Moffitt Day.
About 50 people loaded a bus from Moffitt Wednesday morning for the Capital, where they will be putting a human face on the disease by sharing personal stories of survival with lawmakers.
Mary Edith Thomas is one of those faces. She drove from the Melbourne area Wednesday to Tampa to get on the bus at 6 am. Thomas is a survivor, diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer back in 2005. She was treated at Moffitt.
"They saved my life. And I think it's important to remember. It's that simple. They're saving lives. And everybody's been touched by cancer. Even those guys in Tallahassee and Washington, you know. And they've got to remember how important it is to keep this research going," said Thomas.
According to Moffitt officials, over the past few years funding dramatically dropped because of budget cuts. They said back in 2006, they received nearly $14 million, but it has been less than $9 million in recent years.
"It pays for clinical trials to test new and better ways to treat cancer, to prevent cancer," said Director of Government Relations at Moffitt, John DeMuro.
Officials are hoping now that the economy has improved, lawmakers can increase funding.
The group has a full day planned including a press conference and numerous meetings with lawmakers.
They're expected back in Tampa Wednesday night at about 10:30.