Sheri Milson, of Shelby Township, right, a volunteer with both the American Cancer Society and the ACS Cancer Action Network, accepts the award for Advocacy Volunteer of the Year at the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing.

Sheri Milson, of Shelby Township, right, a volunteer with both the American Cancer Society and the ACS Cancer Action Network, accepts the award for Advocacy Volunteer of the Year at the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing.

Photo provided by Michelle Zimmerman

Shelby Township woman receives award for cancer advocacy

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 6, 2019


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A Shelby Township woman was recently recognized with an award at the state Capitol for her dedication and advocacy in the fight against cancer.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network honored Sheri Milson with its Advocacy Volunteer of the Year award in Lansing.

The award ceremony was part of ACS CAN’s annual Cancer Action Day, which brings together cancer advocates to push lawmakers to make cancer a top legislative priority.

Milson is a cancer survivor of 11 years and aims to make a positive difference in the fight against cancer, to give back, and to be a voice for others.

“I feel blessed to have been given a second chance at life, as so many of my friends and family have been touched by cancer,” Milson said in an email interview. “I have been doing Relay for Life for over 18 years after losing my mom to brain cancer, and have been on the Greater Shelby Township Relay for Life Event Leadership Team and a team captain for the past 12 years.”

The Advocacy Volunteer of the Year award recognizes an individual who helps ACS CAN advocate for public health policies and laws that will help end suffering and death from cancer.

“To be considered for the award, a volunteer must demonstrate good leadership in cancer-related public policy at the national, state or local level; contribute to the fight against cancer at the state level or in their community; and actively participate in both local and state-level events, media campaigns and advocacy initiatives throughout the year,” ACS CAN states in a press release.

Milson is an active volunteer with ACS CAN and takes pride in the experience she has had with cancer and volunteering.

“Being involved as an advocate allows me to use my voice and take action to make a positive difference,” she said.

She has served as an Ambassador Constituent Team lead for ACS CAN for more than four years, and has met with legislators in the district, in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.

“I am truly honored to be a volunteer, as I truly see our voices and stories with our lawmakers making a difference,” she said.

Much of Milson’s work is devoted to education.

“In my career, I am a health educator with Henry Ford Hospital, and I feel my voice with ACS CAN is also used to help educate lawmakers, sometimes, on the importance of the impact of these bills. … We share our stories with them and the impact that it’s making.”

Milson said that although cancer rates are starting to decrease, there is more to do.

“Cancer death rates continue to decrease nationwide, but we still haven’t fully implemented proven ways to prevent the disease in the first place. Too many Michiganders will still lose their lives to cancer in 2019. We’re here to ask lawmakers to help cancer patients (receive) better access lifesaving treatment options and to confront one of the leading causes of premature death in our state — tobacco use,” she said.

She said that advocates have been working hard toward getting many bills passed, including one on oral chemotherapy that would make the out-of-pocket costs to patients the same as intravenous chemotherapy.

“For many the cost of oral chemo can be cost-prohibitive, even if it is their best treatment option, because many insurances recognize it as a pharmaceutical drug with very high copays or no coverage,” said Milson. She said the costs can be in the thousands of dollars a month.

She said she has taken a lot of her own time to travel to Lansing to gather signatures, attend meetings and events on bills, and speak to legislators.

“I’ve collected postcards with signatures and mailed them to our lawmakers, encouraging them to vote yes on oral chemo and be co-sponsors. I’ve gone to legislators’ town hall meetings to speak on oral chemo, as well as meet with my legislators in office on the importance and impact it is making.”

Andrew Schepers, the Michigan government relations director for ACS CAN, commented in a prepared statement on Milson’s award.

“Sheri serves a key role within ACS CAN with great passion and commitment,” Schepers stated. “She is always there when you need her and consistently goes above and beyond our expectations of volunteers. As a cancer survivor, she uses her voice to passionately advocate for those who no longer can. Our team would certainly not be the same without her hard work and persistence.”

Milson said she was surprised when she received the Advocacy Volunteer of the Year award, and that she hopes to bring awareness and understanding to cancer research.

“I was totally shocked and so very humbled when they called my name to receive the ACS CAN Volunteer of the Year award,” she stated. “I told them it is not just one person, but I totally share that award with every ACS CAN member as we continue to use our voices to bring awareness, education and understanding, and continue to get support for more funding for cancer research so that … we will one day see this disease called cancer end.”

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