, August 08, 2018 | More Post by

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The unveiling of our A Calendar to Live By 2019 is just a month away, and we’re so excited!! You’ll have to wait until then to read our lovely and dedicated calendar models’ stories and discover the new calendar’s theme, but to help you get to know them just a little bit better, we’ve collected some of their favorite quotes here.

Michelle: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” -Vicki Corona

Mona: “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” -Albert Einstein

Mona says: I like this because, it reminds me that life is too short to be unhappy and to be around unhappy people.  I want to find joy in life and invest in friends who encourage and inspire me!

Kendall: “You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”

Kendall says: My breast cancer journey at my young age has always puzzled me. No family history, why was I chosen to have cancer? I now see that I have reached so many ladies that now have the knowledge they need to listen to their gut, get checked, and spread information to others. I found my purpose.

Raquel: “If you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead.” -Gusteau (Ratatouille)

Raquel says: If we spend our days thinking about all we have lost, the past, and what we have left behind we will miss the beauty of what is right in front of us. Sometimes we have to experience hardships so that we have a better appreciation for our blessings.

Virginia: “Remember that when you help another up a mountain, you are a little nearer the top yourself.”  -Thomas S. Monson

Sammi Jo: “The prettier the flower, the farther from the path.”

Jenyse: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.”

Jenyse says: Let’s dance. This is quote that sits on my desk. When I have those moments of sadness or frustration and look at this, I get up and literally dance in my office. Even with no rain.

Laura: “She persisted.”

Ashley: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”-Babe Ruth

Don’t forget to buy your tickets to our Pink Carpet Gala on September 29! You’ll get a chance to meet these ladies in person and see what our new calendar theme is for 2019. Click here for tickets and info.

, August 08, 2018 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features 11 survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Natalie!

Natalie

52, Diagnosed at 47

3rd degree family history – no known genetic mutation

In April 2015, Natalie Bare, physical therapist by day, stood in front of a panel of U.S. Figure Skating judges and to her great surprise, received a standing ovation. A competitive ice skater, Natalie was accustomed to waiting for the judges’ scores, but this wasn’t about her performance. Just three months prior to this event, she had completed treatment (chemotherapy, lumpectomy, and radiation) for stage II breast cancer. It all began at her annual exam, where she had said “yes” to getting a 3D mammogram. Had she not opted for 3D, her cancer might have remained undetected until it reached a more advanced stage. Already familiar with Beyond Boobs!, she never imagined she’d meet the membership criteria! She admits she cried at her first meeting, insisting she was not a “support-group-type person.” But for her, that support grew into far more than a monthly gathering. “It’s a way of life,” says Natalie. “I can’t imagine my life without BB! I rarely miss a meeting, but when I do, I feel incomplete. I love all of our events—they are uplifting, inspiring, and fun. Sometimes it takes something silly—like a support group with the word “boobs” in it—to really get the point across.”

, July 02, 2018 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features 11 women we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring stories about their cancer journey. Sadly, July’s model, Shawna passed away one year ago this month from metastatic breast cancer, before the calendar was even published. This month, as her photo graces our wall, let us take time to honor her and all the women who have died of this disease.

Here’s is Shawna’s story as it appears in the calendar:

42, Diagnosed at 32, 36

3rd degree relative – no known genetic mutation

A devoted mom, volunteer, military wife, and former Air Force weapons loader, Shawna was vacationing at Disney World with her family when she felt a large lump while showering.  Nodules in her breast tested several months earlier had come back benign, but taking no chances, Shawna returned to her doctor. A biopsy followed by a lumpectomy revealed stage III breast cancer. She had chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, radiation, and eventually, reconstruction. Four years later, she learned the cancer had metastasized to her liver. She has been in treatment ever since. Shortly after this second diagnosis, she and her family moved to Virginia where she found Beyond Boobs! Shawna shares, “The women of BB! ‘deal you in’ and make you smile—in the calendar, on Facebook, in the meetings. Just a smile. That’s what has helped me.” Usually averse to the limelight, Shawna said she applied to be in the calendar because “I have a story to tell,” and shares, “Obstacles are always there. It’s what you do with them, how you empower yourself and educate others that will get you through.” For Shawna, cancer has not been a death sentence but instead, “a sentence of life and the courage to live it.”

, May 08, 2018 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features 11 survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Jamie! (If our calendar isn’t hanging on your wall right now, click here to get one.)

Jamie: 37, Diagnosed at 36

2nd degree family history – no known genetic mutation

Jamie is a busy mother of two, military wife, and project manager. Breast cancer is not a project she was ever planning to have to manage, however.  During her last pregnancy, Jamie found a lump in her breast that was tested and judged benign. When she found a second lump while nursing, a biopsy revealed stage II breast cancer. “I thought I was doing everything right: I was an avid runner, I ate a healthful diet, and I breastfed my babies. I thought I was too young for breast cancer,” Jamie says. Her husband was deployed during her diagnosis and part of her treatment, which included chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, and radiation. Being diagnosed at a young age was a shock for Jamie, but she’s working on taking life one day at a time, and she’s finding comfort from her Boober! sisters. “These are women who understand the emotional and physical rollercoaster of this disease. They’ve given me hope when I was in the depths of chemotherapy and shown me the light at the end of the treatment tunnel.” Her goal is not just to survive but to thrive. Jamie hopes sharing her journey will help uplift other women personally and professionally.

, April 27, 2018 | More Post by

Each month this year in our Monthly Message email, we’re sharing a writing prompt with our readers. This month’s prompt had to do with spring cleaning – not just your house, but maybe your life, too! We sometimes select an entry to appear here on our blog, and each month we will also draw a random entry to win a $20 Amazon gift card! If you don’t receive our Monthly Message program news email and you’d like to sign up for it, visit our website hereforthegirls.org and scroll to the bottom. Below is one entry we selected from this month.

If you read my previous blog entry about my Bucket List, then you know that my husband and I are setting off to full-time in our tiny RV so naturally, this idea of Spring Cleaning caught my eye because figuring out which items are beloved enough to put into expensive climate controlled storage has been a monumental task. However, the thoughts that provoked me to respond to this prompt weren’t about deciding which household knick-knacks made the cut, but how I really had to confront some of the reasons I have been holding onto “Cancer Crap” in an unopened box moved from house to house for 11 years. Some of the items excavated from that box were protected for positive, sentimental reasons that help me relive encouraging memories even if those were formed during one of my most difficult times.

If the Konmari Method is about keeping things that spark joy, I think keeping my Cancer Crap longer than truly necessary was either some perverse idea opposite of joy or more likely a little magical thinking. I can admit now, that along the way, deep down I was struggling for some sort of control over cancer and that perhaps keeping some of those items would somehow ward off the possibility of recurrence like an amulet of protection. Perhaps I was subconsciously preparing myself for the next wave of bad news. For reasons that I can’t quite articulate, I’ve had periods since my cancer diagnosis where I kept various items due to this vague sense that together they might be a magical talisman to ward off recurrence or a new primary cancer.

Of course intellectually, I know that’s not how biology works, but in some desperate corner of my mind, I clearly believed that I needed this Cancer Crap just in case. At that time, my need to prepare for the “what if” was partially fueled by regret that I hadn’t even thought to worry breast cancer at 33 and even after diagnosis, I surely never thought that genetic test would be positive because it’s so rare. The Konmari Method talks about keeping things that speak to your heart and maybe all that Cancer Crap spoke to a broken part of my heart. The part that said, “nah, I don’t need to go for the mammogram today, I’m sure it’s nothing like you said, I’ll just go next week to confirm.”

I’ve confronted part of this stash once before, but in the last few months, I really had to challenge myself to internally justify exactly why I thought I needed to continue to keep some of these items.

The first time I cleared out some of the bits and pieces of my Cancer Crap was challenging because it was my stash of all the head-coverings and different iterations of post-mastectomy bras, and prosthetics. I could easily articulate why I was holding on to those for a long time because they were expensive and were useful items that might be needed if there were more surgeries or complications or more chemo at any point. I knew the statistics for recurrence for triple negative breast cancer in the first 5 years and I figured it was likely I might really need that stuff again…and soon.

During chemo, I never bought or wore a wig. I know there are so many that look great, but a few friends had told me they seemed itchy and sort of pain to keep up. I just didn’t see myself as ever being comfortable physically or mentally in one as I knew I’d somehow feel like a fraud. I was also just not the in-your-face “I’m bald & so what” person either. So for me, scarves and hats were the happy medium that suited my personality and lifestyle. Just like anything though, one can get carried away and that ended up leading to way too many purchases and an entire box of scarves that coordinated with all sorts of outfits from the everyday, super comfy casual scarf with jeans to the dressy, matching my work outfits scarves.

Initially, I had a lumpectomy but after learning of my BRCA1+ mutation, I had a preventative bilateral mastectomy. I still needed radiation so I was flat and unreconstructed for a long period of time. Later, after my first reconstruction surgery I got a post-operative infection and had to have an expander removed so then I was doing the expansion process on one side and waiting for the other side and repeating the same process separately. Even the different iterations of drain holders and what worked for a 1 drain lumpectomy definitely did not work for a 6 drain reconstruction. Naturally, there was an array products purchased for each of these phases.

One day, I decided that part of my Survivorship Plan to truly recover emotionally from cancer needed to be donating these things to others in need and who were facing my same situation. I also rationalized this by first telling myself that if I had to do chemo again one day, I’d want fresh new scarves anyway and that not everyone has insurance that covered a new set of prosthetics every year and/or new ones when things changed during different surgical issues. While it was an uneasy feeling of tempting fate while parting with the “just in case cancer comes back box,” it was made much easier by having a purpose that benefited others.

Now, several years after that first clearing out, I was still dragging around that other box. The box with those things I just couldn’t seem to part with that somehow I deemed my “Important Cancer Crap.” While facing this box as we prepare for the RV Adventure, there were some items, I had no problem tossing because 11 years later, I couldn’t remember why I had even believed them so sacred or important to keep. Other items were reminders of some of the supportive cancer-friends I met along the way, like personalized, hand crafted name tag from a YSC Conference.  Yes, I ultimately had to let some of those types of possessions go because while the memories are important, I no longer felt the necessity to actually keep them.  More importantly, in finally confronting this box, I wasn’t just getting rid of THINGS, I was releasing the idea that I needed to keep the box to avert disaster. In letting go of that misguided idea, I was able to choose the 3 things that I truly did want to keep and express why.

The first thing I selected to keep was a box within Important Cancer Crap box that is filled with cards which serve as a tangible reminder of how my life genuinely matters to others. There are times in our lives when we think to ourselves that while we know that we a valued team member at work, we don’t think that all of those co-workers really value us as just a person. Seeing the product of people taking their time and money to send me a card when I was sick amassed together is profound for me. It shouldn’t take getting sick to make one know this universal truth, but it’s a powerful visual reminder that my life matters beyond my contributions at work or some other superficial thing I can do. Those cards also serve as a cue to remember learning the lesson that sometimes the people you think are your friends, are either unable or don’t know how to respond or support you during a difficult time, but that others you thought were just acquaintances or co-workers fill in that gap and surprise and support you in ways you couldn’t have previously imagined.

The next items I decided to continue to preserve are the old-school radiology films showing my tumor. At first, I kept those films out of necessity as I visited various doctors for consultation. Since that time of necessity has passed, I then began mulling over this nebulous idea of creating some sort of art from the films. While I’m still not ready to turn that vision into action, I’m not prepared to abandon it either. I know that I simply need more art experience and additional time to allow my ideas for these films to solidify in my mind. Stay tuned for more on this one day!

The last item I kept from the Important Cancer Crap box is the one that’s the hardest to explain…it’s a polka dotted soft knit beanie that I wore for so long and almost 100% of the time I was home, even when I slept because I was cold. I called that beanie my “Chicken Hat” because I read this moving blog post by a woman that so clearly articulated my exact feelings at the time. She eloquently wrote about getting home each day, changing into PJs, removing her wig and donning her favorite softest Chicken Scarf. I think it was called that for some funny reason connected to her love of chickens and hence why she selected fabric with chickens in the pattern.  What she was able to put into words was that in that Chicken Scarf she felt secure and comforted and almost normal after having removed all those “masks” that are occasionally necessary outside our homes. I desperately tried to find that old post, but the details escape me now and I couldn’t find it. Much like a child’s beloved “lovie” my polka-dotted Chicken Hat doesn’t bring me comfort when I hold it now, but I can summon the feelings it did give me and it’s the one remaining piece of Cancer Crap that I will probably never part with not because I might need it again if I get cancer again, nor because it’s a charm to ward off misfortune, and it really doesn’t spark joy, but it sure reminds me of the solace I felt while wearing it and during tough times like cancer treatments, relief is just was welcomed as joy.

-Veronica M.

, April 19, 2018 | More Post by

Each month this year in our Monthly Message email, we’re sharing a writing prompt with our readers. This month’s prompt had to do with spring cleaning – not just your house, but maybe your life, too! We sometimes select an entry to appear here on our blog, and each month we will also draw a random entry to win a $20 Amazon gift card! If you don’t receive our Monthly Message program news email and you’d like to sign up for it, visit our website hereforthegirls.org and scroll to the bottom. Below is one entry we selected from this month.

Let me tell you that cleaning isn’t just for the spring time. In fact, if you unfortunately succumb to pollen allergies, the addition of settled dust and potentially other smelly/icky/old remnants of seasons’ past just kill you off in a snot-nosed, stuffy-headed fashion during the cleaning spell. Not the most sexy of looks for a lady who may gain a feverish itch to rejuvenate and refresh the mind and eyes for the upcoming summer.

My “spring cleaning” of my life actually happened around the start of summer in 2016. I had recently been diagnosed Stage II breast cancer going right into Memorial Day weekend that year. Yay. The stages of grief descended upon me while I first struggled to come to terms with my life direction. What’s going to happen to me? Why are people sending me flowers like condolences? I felt like I was dying. The dark of the nights were sometimes the scariest, with my thoughts plunging to very deep and lonely places. I was alone in my head.

Once I eventually had gone through a barrage of tests, exams, and a litany of appointments with my supposed team of doctors, then focused on my decision to handle my cancer via surgery in July of that year, my mind was calm and resolute. I was able to prioritize my life as it were to continue from The Before. Most of what I thought was important really wasn’t. I gave myself permission to put myself first again and stop living in so many others’ shadows like a butler in the wings. That position was my choice, however, so re-discovering (and discovering for the first time in some ways) myself was eye-opening. I’m freaking awesome…where have I been?!

Returning to work and a regular routine a few weeks after surgery, I continued to make quick evaluations of details and things that I once deemed necessary to complete or fulfill right then. Again, a lot of it wasn’t life-altering enough for me to maintain an image or expectation that my life remained in order and pleasant. I just dealt with cancer and, hopefully, won for life. Dishes will always need to be done. Clothes will always need to be laundered. Groceries will always need to be planned, selected, purchased, stowed and rotated. It can wait a day or even two or three. Or, someone else can do it. I made my strength-training sessions a must. I napped like a badass. I stopped apologizing for any and everything.

– Barbara R.

, April 10, 2018 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features 11 survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Cheri! (If our calendar isn’t hanging on your wall right now, click here to get one.)

Ms. April: Cheri

54, Diagnosed at 50

3rd degree family history – no known genetic mutation

A bizarre dream prompted Cheri to do a breast self-exam. She dreamt she was a chemo patient cheering on a group of sick patients at a local cancer center. As a real-life nurse case manager, she attributed the dream to work stress spilling over into her sleep. But with the dream still on her mind, she examined her breast and surprisingly felt a large lump. The lump turned out to be stage III breast cancer that a year later metastasized. “Only this time I wasn’t a cheerleader,” she says. Cheri admits to hiding herself in a corner during her chemotherapy sessions. “I wouldn’t talk to anyone.” That all changed when she found the Viera, FL, Beyond Boobs! group and discovered the strength that only can be gained by women supporting each other, sharing struggles, and celebrating victories. One of the biggest adjustments has been going from being the constant caregiver—as a mom, grandmother, nurse, and wife —to being the one receiving care. Through it all she’s learned the importance of taking time for herself and has made “fun” a top priority. Now a co-facilitator for the Viera BB! group, she wants to help the young women find joy, even in their darkest times.

, March 09, 2018 | More Post by

Welcome to our series called Co-Founders’ Corner! These are posts by either of our two Here for the Girls Co-Founders, Rene Bowditch or Mary Beth Gibson. Enjoy these (sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always interesting) reflections on life!

Musings About Meaning

Since the beginning of time, humans have contemplated the meaning of life. So picture this – it’s a crisp, cool night, and a group of friends have gathered beside a roaring fire after a long, hard day. Donning animal pelt loin cloths and gnawing on roasted meat, they gaze up at the twinkling stars, and they wonder… so why are we here anyway? We run around chasing wooly mammoths all day long while saber tooth tigers chase after us. What’s the point of it all?

Fast forward through the millennia to the present. So now picture this – it’s a crisp, cool night, and a group of friends are relaxing by the fire pit after a long, hard day. Decked out in animal print LulaRoe leggings and sipping on chardonnay… or something, they gaze at the twinkling stars, and they wonder… so why are we here anyway? We run around chasing after things all day long while our boss/children/spouse chase after us. What’s the point of it all?

Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. As human beings, we are compelled to find meaning in our existence. There are two questions really. The first is very complex – what is the meaning of life – and I have to tell you, I have absolutely no idea and no illusion that I ever will.  That is way over my paygrade. So I will leave it to the people with lots of letters after their names who are way smarter than I am to tackle that one.

That leaves the second question then –  one I that I do have the capacity to tackle – what is the meaning of my life? My time on this earth is limited, so what the heck am I supposed to be doing with my life? Does what I do even matter?

Some of you may have heard of the poem entitled the Dash. The reader’s digest version is this:  On a tombstone is the date of birth and the date of death and in between is a dash. It is what we do with the dash that matters.

When I was younger I felt all this pressure to figure out what to do with my dash.  I was on a mission to solve the mystery of the meaning of life because I couldn’t squander my dash!

I used to think that my life would be meaningful if …

If I had a husband who adored me

If I had children to care for

If I had a successful career

If I had hobbies I enjoyed

If I had tons of friends

If I had lots of stuff like clothes, and jewelry, and a house and car

So many ifs!

I ended up with all of those things– my adoring and adorable husband, three amazing sons, three fulfilling careers so far, a variety of enjoyable hobbies, lots of loving friends – and the stuff – way too much stuff. And I am grateful for all of it. Very grateful.

But is that meaning of my life? To have all of those things? No. I am so much wiser now.

Paradoxically, the harder we try to find the meaning of life, the more it eludes us. It is in experiencing life, reveling in the moments, that the elusive is exposed.

In the grand scheme of things, what I do won’t go down in the history books and survive through the millennia. Nonetheless, what I do matters very much to the people who share this time and place with me.

We do have limited time on this earth, and each of us is on a life journey. We are all learning, growing, struggling, seeking, succeeding, failing, loving, losing. Life is full of beautiful moments, and it is also full of pain. It is the contrast of emotions that allows us to appreciate the richness of our experiences. It is the people in our lives who have the ability to influence, for better or worse, how we feel about our experiences.

The meaning of my life, is to be the person who:

elicits a smile on someone’s face

extends a kindness to a stranger

comforts someone who is scared or lonely

celebrates another’s success

sheds tears with a friend

respects each person’s humanity and the need to be loved

The meaning of my life is to make other people feel meaningful. It is simple. Not easy, but simple. I am not always good at it. It takes intention and effort. But you know what? Every morning when I wake up, I have any number of opportunities to fulfill my meaning.

It’s a work in progress. I am a work in progress. But when all is said and done, when the final date is etched in stone, my dash will have mattered if I have enriched other’s life experiences.

So, if any of you want to explore for themselves, the age-old question “what is the meaning of my life,” I invite you to join me for an evening by my fire pit, gazing at the stars. You don’t have to wear anything animal print, and barbecue mammoth won’t be on the menu, but I can hook you up with a glass of chardonnay… or something.

Mary Beth Gibson

, March 09, 2018 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features 11 survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Miki! (If our calendar isn’t hanging on your wall right now, click here to get one.)

Miki

37, Diagnosed at 35

1st degree family history – no known genetic mutation

Miki has a frisky, diligent Army husband to thank for helping her take action once he felt the small lump she had ignored for several months thinking it just a clogged milk duct caused by nursing her infant son. The daughter of a survivor, Miki soon received her own dreaded diagnosis: triple negative breast cancer, stage II. After chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and reconstruction, Miki has committed to making more time for herself and continuing to nurture the personal growth she experienced during treatment. “I’m a planner—but you sure cannot plan for cancer! I’m working on being more spontaneous in my daily life. The little things in life are so much more important to me now… family dinner, a cuddle on the couch, playing outside with the kids, and regular date nights with my husband.” Along with her husband and her two young sons, her Boober! sisters have played a huge part in her recovery. Miki says, “Beyond Boobs! was a game changer for me. I no longer felt isolated, because even though I had the best support system ever, they couldn’t relate. I felt ‘normal’ and raised up by the love and fierce, fast connections of my BB! sisters.”

, February 13, 2018 | More Post by

At Here for the Girls, we are not an advocacy group — however, we absolutely encourage our supporters and our survivors to equip themselves with knowledge about laws that affect them and to become strong advocates for their own health. In order to help our blog readers do these things, we invited our friends at the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation (VBCF) to share their knowledge and information about their advocacy efforts so far this year with the Virginia General Assembly.

In February 1991, five women met in an MCV support group. Stunned by a lack of research and progress in breast cancer treatment, they planned a Mother’s Day Rally at the Virginia State Capitol to bring attention to this devastating disease. The activist seeds of the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation (VBCF) were sown that day, and VBCF was incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit in October 1992. VBCF seeks to educate Virginians about breast cancer to encourage screenings to improve early diagnosis and treatment outcomes and to advocate for improved public policy to enable Virginians affected by breast cancer to receive the best quality of healthcare while on their treatment journey. We work to provide Virginians with knowledge and a voice when affected by breast cancer.

Each year, VBCF hosts a breast cancer advocacy day at the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond with training for volunteer advocates so that state legislators hear directly from their constituents impacted by breast cancer. At our January 30, 2018 Advocacy Day, our breast cancer advocates met with over 20 state legislators to make their voices heard on the following legislation:

VBCF Priority Legislation 2018:

Increase Access to Healthcare for ALL Virginians – Support for HB 348

Expanding access to health insurance through Medicaid expansion will mean that more women will be able to secure breast cancer screenings and treatment. Every month Virginia loses an average of $142 million in federal funding. Since 2014, the Commonwealth has forfeited over $10 billion in federal funds, which could have been used to help uninsured adults, hospitals, and businesses. Most states have expanded their Medicaid programs. While Virginians suffer without coverage, 31 states and the District of Columbia are providing health insurance to uninsured adults. Those states are seeing significant health and financial benefits.

The Latest: Current debate centers around adding a work requirement for those receiving Medicaid.

Use of Medical Cannabis for Cancer Patients – Support for HB 1251, SB 726.  Based on The National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute information, “the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep.”  HB 1251 and SB 726 provide for a practitioner to issue a written certification for the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil or THC-A for the treatment or to alleviate the symptoms of any diagnosed condition or disease.  These bills in one form or another provide an affirmative defense to prosecution for possession if a person has a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for CBD oil or THC-A oil. Under current law, only the treatment of intractable epilepsy is covered by this defense.

The Latest: As of 2/5/18, both bills were passed by their respective chambers. Since the bills are identical, the steps forward are largely procedural: the bills will “crossover” to the opposite house for a vote, before heading to Governor Northam’s desk for signature. Governor Northam, also a doctor, is already on record in support of “Let Doctors Decide” medical marijuana laws in the Commonwealth. Passage of this historic legislation would make Virginia the first state with a hyper-restrictive program to adopt such a broad expansion.

Improve Protocols for Step Therapy – Support for HB 386, SB 574 to make step therapy better and safer for Virginians – Step therapy occurs when a doctor prescribes a medicine, but the insurance company requires the patient to try alternate, cheaper drugs first, with no clinical justification. Step therapy can delay patient access to medication, causing adverse reactions and allowing their health to deteriorate. HB 386 and SB 574 put an online process in place for health care providers to request overrides for step therapy protocols for patients for whom the insurer- mandated drug is clinically determined to cause adverse health events or be ineffective, as well as those who have already met step therapy requirements and ensures that providers are notified in writing if their request is denied.

The Latest: On 2/1/18, the House Commerce and Labor subcommittee voted to recommend to the full committee that HB 386 should be “passed by indefinitely” meaning the bill is dead for this session. On 2/6/18, the House Finance Committee voted to recommend that SB 574 be “continued until 2019 in Finance” meaning it will be considered during the next General Assembly session.

If you would like to actively support breast cancer legislation at the state and national levels, SIGN UP FOR VBCF’S ADVOCACY ALERTS. These brief email alerts are sent periodically – when your advocacy is needed the most. The Alerts will keep you up to date with the latest breast cancer legislation and provide the tools and information you need to take action.