Breast cancer bill deserves vote

8 years ago

To the editor:

In the United States, it is estimated that more than 40,000 women and 440 men will die of breast cancer this year. Over the past few decades, this nation has invested billions of dollars in breast cancer research and technology, but the statistics have not changed significantly. We continue losing the women (and men) we love to this dreadful disease.

As a breast cancer advocate on a national, state and local level in Maine, I believe in the power of public policy action. There is a bill in Congress called the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act (HR 1197), that would go a long way toward ending this disease once and for all. It focuses on identifying strategies for the primary prevention of breast cancer and identifying methods to prevent breast cancer metastasis, or the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body. Metastasis is responsible for over 90 percent of breast cancer deaths.

HR 1197 is bipartisan, non-controversial, does not require additional federal funding and will accelerate the progress already made toward ending breast cancer.

In the House, HR 1197 has 272 bipartisan co-sponsors. That means that 272 members of Congress say they want this bill to become law. It is unheard of to see such strong bipartisan support in today’s political climate. Does their word mean anything? Despite the strong show of bipartisan support, HR 1197 is currently being held up. Although it has the support needed, it has not been moved to the floor for a vote despite the best efforts of breast cancer advocates from all over the United States — including myself.

I applaud the United States Congressional leaders from Maine for their willingness to come alongside our work on this bill. Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King, Congressman Bruce Poliquin and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree have all become co-sponsors of the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act in their respective offices.

I want to continue to urge them to reach out to their colleagues to help get the bill moved to the House floor for a vote so that it can pass! Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has the power and authority to send HR 1197 to the full House for a vote and a majority of the Energy & Commerce committee already supports this legislation.

I do not want our daughters and granddaughters to have to face breast cancer. Awareness is simply not enough. We need this bill so future generations can live without fear of dying from the disease. Why won’t Congress act? The people of Maine are watching and we are running out of time.

Bethany Zell
Program Director, Pink Aroostook
Program Director, Healthy You
President, Maine Breast Cancer Coalition
Field Coordinator/Team Leader,
National Breast Cancer Coalition