Celebrate and Be Grateful: A Special Speaker for the Smoky Mountain Cancer Support Group

Celebrate every day and be grateful. That was part of the message from Michael Holtz at this month’s Smoky Mountain Cancer Support Group meeting.    


 Michael Holtz is a cancer survivor, an advocate for cancer patients, and the State Lead Ambassador for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Tennessee. (ACSCAN TN) 

He loves his role with ACSCAN because he knows he is making an impact on legislation that matters to cancer patients and in the battle to end cancer.    

Advocacy matters, and it does make a difference.  Because of advocacy, the Federal Government has continued to increase Federal research funding, that includes Cancer research, by $2 billion every year.  Many ACSCAN volunteers are cancer survivors just like Michael and when Legislators see their faces, they realize how important the funding is to the survival of cancer patients.   


This year, Michael and other ACSCAN volunteers are focusing their energy on the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA).  Palliative care is comfort at the beginning of treatment, Hospice care is comfort at the end of life.  This Legislation would fund education for medical personnel in the area of pain management, for patients with serious illnesses that result in chronic or acute pain.  Thus bringing comfort to patients and their families during the entire treatment for their cancer diagnosis.   

It has been a 6 year effort to get PCHETA to where it’s at in Congress.  It was passed unanimously by the House and is now in the Senate ready for mark up. This is when the Senate debates, amends, and do any rewrites of the proposed legislation. 

Our own, Senator Alexander has an important role in getting PCHETA to a vote in the Senate. The path to vote for PCHETA starts in his committee and as the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he is the one to move it to mark up.  Sen. Alexander listens to his constituents and is a big supporter of cancer research.  As a constituent, you can call his office and ask him to “schedule the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act, Senate Bill 693, for mark up”.   

The phone number for his office in Washington D.C. 202-224-4990 

Michael told the small crowd, “we would like to see the day when no one has to hear the words, you have cancer, and this legislation is a road to that day”.   He and 650+ ACSCAN advocates will converge on Washington D.C. this month to ask Congress to support PCHETA.   

A highlight of the Washington D.C. trip is the Lights of Hope ceremony where thousands of luminaria bags from around the country are lined up around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial.  The bags are a somber reminder of the far-reaching impact of cancer.  But from the solemness ignites a flame of passion that continues to drive the volunteers.  You can make a statement about cancer with the purchase of a Light of Hope Luminaria. Michael will carry it to Washington D.C. and add it to the others around the Reflecting Pool.  Go to http://action.acscan.org/goto/michaelholtz2018, and make your donation.  Each bags $10 and supports ACSCAN.   The deadline is September 16th. 

The Smoky Mountain Cancer Support Group meets the second Monday of each month, at the My People Senior Activity Center.  All are welcome.  Contact Carlene Maples at carlene.maples@gmail.com, for more information.   

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