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Letter | Student sees hope at Olympia Lobby Day
Recently, I had the amazing privilege of partaking in the American Cancer Society Lobby Day in Olympia, as part of my advocacy-related school senior project. I discussed bills with my senators and representatives, gained firsthand experience of the legislative process in our state, and worked alongside the wonderful American Cancer Association lobbyists, staff members and passionate volunteers to advocate for health programs and legislation that impact every constituent of Washington state.
The cancer survival story of one Washington state senator illustrated to me how seemingly simple changes in legislation could save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. As a stage four lung cancer patient, the person’s consumption of oral chemotherapy reversed his cancer and his symptoms, restoring him back to health.
As a pill, it falls under the prescription benefit, which has more limited coverage than the medical benefit portion of a plan. However, oral chemotherapy costs significantly less than IV therapies.
Reviewing the 41 new anti-cancer drugs approved since 2000, the average monthly cost of IV therapy was $12,830; the average monthly cost for oral therapies was $5,699. Affordable chemotherapy will inevitably allow those unable to afford IV chemotherapy a chance at treatment, and ultimately, a chance at recovery. By no means should anyone be denied a chance at recovery due to their financial position.
My experience as one of the younger participants at Lobby Day was profound, going beyond what a typical government class teaches kids my age. Getting out into the community and being proactive about initiatives taught me just how powerful an impact one individual, young or old, can make on legislation that affects thousands.