I’ll start this off with a confession. I don’t always vote, and sometimes when I do vote, I don’t really know who I’m voting for. I’ve never done a lot in the sense of investigating candidates prior to voting. I guess I’m one of those apathetic people who doesn’t have a lot of faith in the bureaucracy of government. I don’t really feel my vote or my voice counts for much. I slept through high school government and never wanted to invest the time into learning about or understanding the political process.

But my encounter with Dr. Geoffry Wahl challenged me. He is a cancer researcher passionate about finding a cure for cancer. He has a PhD in Biological Chemistry from Harvard University and was a Postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He was the president of America’s oldest and largest cancer research organization. He’s someone worth paying attention to. His passion for defeating cancer is contagious.

Dr. Wahl challenged me to become involved in the political process that can direct our tax dollars towards cancer research, he feels that is the best thing we can do to help the cause. I also have a new friend who is a past graduate of the same Scientist-Survivor Program I just attended. She as a cancer advocate and survivor has become very involved in state legislation in Indiana that supports cancer patients. I really like her and admire her work also. That in addition to what I learned about Randy Pausch’s efforts has inspired me.

I’ve decided to take on the challenge. I have no clue how to influence the political process but have decided to learn. I began today.

I know I’m supposed to contact my government representatives. Well, I don’t know who my local or state government representatives are. So I Googled “Who are my state representatives in Indiana”. A link appeared at the top of the search page, www.in.gov/apps/sos/legislator/search/.

I clicked the link and another search engine appeared that directed me to government positions and to a map identifying my congressional district, then to the Senate (we have two senators per state elected for 6 year terms. I guess I learned that in high school government, but I’d forgotten). The page also directed me to legislation our representatives had authored and co-authored.

My two state senators were names I had heard before, Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar. The senators names linked to their individual web sites, so I went to the sites. Each of the senator’s web sites had search engines, so I plugged in “Cancer Research Funding” to see what came up. I hit pay dirt! On Senator Bayh’s site this popped up “US Senator Evan Bayh today introduced legislation calling for a dramatic increase in cancer research funding”. He’s on our side!

I sent Senator Bayh an email via his web site telling him a bit about myself and my cancer advocacy efforts. I requested to be contacted to learn how I could support his efforts to increase cancer research funding.

Not bad for my first day ever trying to become involved in the political process, I don’t think! And it took me less than an hour!

I was asked by the American Cancer Society long ago if I was interested in becoming a legislative ambassador, at the time I said no (I didn’t do politics). I think I need to go back and talk to them to learn more about that.