House Resolution 787 – Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day October 13
by Kathy Coursey-Boes
On July 19, 2009, at 6am, I drove with my 12 year old daughter Addie from Oxford, Georgia to Washington, DC, to join our group of breast cancer patients and family members. The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network would train us in the legislative and advocacy process. The drive was long and the day was hot, but it was important for me to be in Washington and have my voice heard. It was important for Addie to see me fighting on behalf of my beliefs and the needs of others. I was part of the group representing all of us with stage IV breast cancer and the issues that are unique to us.
At the office of Senator Isakson of Georgia, the legislative aides we spoke with thought they knew about breast cancer, as do many people. What they did not realize is that no one dies of early-stage breast cancer. A tumor in the breast is not fatal! People ultimately die of disease that progresses to a vital organ – people die of metastatic breast cancer. Our Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill needed to learn about our disease and the issues and needs we have.
We first requested congressional leaders to eliminate the 24-month waiting period for those on social security disability before Medicare kicks in. What are we supposed to do for 24 months while waiting, hope that the disease will cooperate so we won’t need treatments?
Our next priority was to eliminate lifetime limits on health insurance coverage. I spoke with my Senator about how I would be maxing out my insurance coverage and would not be able to get other insurance as I had a pre-existing condition – cancer! It is wonderful that this has become part of the new healthcare bill.
Our third priority was to address the disparity between the reimbursement for IV chemo drugs and chemo pills that are often billed as prescriptions – with a huge co-pay.
And finally, we asked for National recognition for those living with metastatic breast cancer. We requested one day in October when we would be seen and heard through the maze of pinkness. Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana and Representative Rosa De Lauro of Connecticut took the lead in supporting the resolutions to declare October 13 as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
It took many calls and a lot of footwork but the U.S. House of Representatives passed the resolutions that we proposed. We now have our day! From 2009 forward, October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day across the entire country.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Kathy Coursey-Boes is a mother and grandmother who has been living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer for six years. Never one to succumb easily to despair, Kathy has used this life-changing diagnosis to have a positive impact on others. Thanks to the support of her husband and extended family, Kathy has been a driving force for awareness and detection in her community and will be a guest speaker at the MBCN 2010 National Conference.
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) is a national, independent, patient-led, non-profit, advocacy group dedicated to the unique concerns of the 155,000 women and men living with metastatic breast cancer, and the estimated 30% of those with primary breast cancer who face the possibility of recurrence and a stage IV diagnosis. To register for the 2010 National Conference being held on Saturday, October 16, visit www.mbcnetwork.org/page.aspx?nm=2010_Conference.