Speeches and Floor Statements


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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 26, 2011 | Douglas Farrar (202-225-1766) | comments
In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place yearly in October, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) gave the following speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The text is below. Click here to watch video of Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s speech

"As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, I rise to honor our breast cancer warriors who are bravely battling this deadly disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that 2.6 million women and men are living with breast cancer in this country. This year alone it is estimated there will be 290,000 new cases of breast cancer, and almost 40,000 patients will lose their battle with this disease.  

Until five years ago I would hear these statistics, sympathize with personal stories of suffering from this tragic disease, and reaffirm my commitment of support to finding a cure. But I never fully understood what it meant to have a family member diagnosed with breast cancer until  the day I got a call from my sister Lillian telling me she had breast cancer. It was then that I fully understood the personal sense of helplessness, anguish and disbelief that had been described to me so many times before.

Now I too found myself hoping and praying that I would wake up from the nightmare that was my sister’s reality. Like so many other breast cancer warriors, Lillian bravely confronted her Cancer determined to overcome her devastating illness and the intensely physical and deeply emotional challenges it presented. As my sister moves towards her fifth year free of Cancer, there is much to be hopeful for.  

From 1998 to 2007, breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. decreased by about 2 per cent a year, due in part, it is thought, to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy. Since about 1990 death rates from breast cancer have also been declining, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. And while breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer, the chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman's death has been reduced to 1 in 36.

These dramatic improvements in life expectancy are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment. These improvements also stand as a testament to the investments Congress has made in prevention, screening and researching new treatments for the disease, but they must not be the final frontier in our efforts to make breast cancer a disease of the past. This year the commitment to finding a cure for breast cancer remains more personal than ever, because once again breast cancer has attacked someone who is close to my heart. 

Earlier this summer, Monica, my long time district office manager, was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. She faced this unbelievable challenge with characteristic grace and strength.With family, friends and colleagues she has been up front and upbeat about her illness; and always a stylish dresser, she has donned a number of very fashionable head scarves. After first undergoing several months of chemotherapy, Monica had successful surgery on Friday and is home recovering. I want her to know we are praying for her continued strength and speedy recovery.   

Like so many other breast cancer warriors, Monica’s extraordinary courage as she fights back against her disease is an example of the power of the human spirit to survive, and gives renewed fervor to my personal commitment to fight this disease. As long as women in this country face a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, we must continue to invest in improved and earlier detection of the disease, better treatments and educational outreach.
For Lillian, for Monica, and for all our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends – let us never abandon our fight to cure and finally eradicate breast cancer in this country."
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Tags: Health