“As a breast cancer survivor, the beginning of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month holds special meaning for me, as it does for so many women who have been afflicted with this disease. To find a lump, then to wait with dread for the diagnosis from a physician: It is a terrifying ordeal.
“That is why we must educate young women about the importance of early detection, especially among those whose genetic background puts them at greater risk. In particular, young women must all be mindful that this disease can strike before the age of 40. Knowledge gives a woman her best chance at beating breast cancer – I am living proof of this.
“Awareness must be combined, however, with the availability of quality treatment, which is why I’m so pleased that this year’s awareness month occurs at the same time that enrollment opens in Health Insurance Marketplaces around the country, as we head toward the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Republican Party’s desperate gambit to shut down the government cannot obscure the promise that health-care reform holds for women. We all have greater access to preventive services, including screenings for breast and cervical cancer, thanks to the ACA. And in a few months, it will be illegal for insurance companies to refuse coverage to breast cancer survivors on the basis of a preexisting condition.
“Voting in March 2010 for the Affordable Care Act was one of my proudest moments as a Member of Congress and I’m especially grateful that it included the EARLY Act, a piece of legislation I authored that directs the Centers for Disease Control to develop and implement a national education campaign about the threat that breast cancer poses to women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. That bill has received roughly $5 million in appropriations every year since 2010 toward the goal of educating young women about the risks of breast cancer.
“But National Breast Cancer Awareness Month exists as a reminder for everyone to increase their consciousness – mothers should talk to their daughters and young women should talk to their friends. Together, we will promote greater understanding and with each passing year we will make progress against this disease.”