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One Voice CAN Make a Difference
Have you ever wondered whether your voice – your personal story – can have a lasting, widespread impact? If you are ever in doubt about the difference that can be made thanks to one dedicated advocate, I hope you’ll take a moment to think about Melissa Thompson.
Earlier this week “Melissa’s law,” took effect in Connecticut. This legislation will ensure fertility coverage for those facing chemotherapy or some other medically necessary treatment that threatens their ability to have children. This bill was unanimously passed in both the House and Senate, and makes Connecticut the first state in the country to enact such legislation.
What makes this bill really stand out – however – is how it came to pass with such support: thanks to the tenacious advocacy of one woman who stood up and shared her story with lawmakers.
Survivor Melissa Thompson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 32, faced a treatment plan that would threaten her ability to have children in the future. Unfortunately, her insurance company would not cover the $12,000 procedure to preserve her fertility options due to her cancer diagnosis. She quickly determined nobody should be forced to choose between a potentially lifesaving treatment, and being able to afford future fertility, so she took her voice to the legislature. And it was heard.
For the eight months leading up to the vote, Thompson joined ACS CAN in a mission of persistent advocacy on behalf of others who might find themselves in her situation in the future. She attended ACS CAN’s State Lobby Day; she testified on the floor during debates; and when the Senate scheduled a vote – she sat on the podium next to the Lt. Governor, received accolades from lawmakers for her advocacy work, and was invited to drop the gavel for the session.
Upon passage of the legislation, lawmakers were quick to credit Thompson’s relentless advocacy for securing their support.
“Through her tenacity and smarts we were able to pass a good bill,” said Rep. Matt Lesser in the Connecticut Mirror.
“[Melissa] made all of the proper contacts and found a way to overcome each and every obstacle and I am certain - resurrected the bill from the dead more than once,” said Rep. Rob Sampson on his Facebook page.
"Melissa has brought it home to everyone how incredibly important it is to be able to have a path to new life," said Sen. Toni Boucher in the Hartford Courant. "To be here and to literally be in our faces in a nice and warm way was very helpful."
The widespread, bi-partisan praise of Melissa’s advocacy is a testament to her strength as an advocate, and generations of cancer patients in Connecticut will have her to thank as they face one less hurdle in the course of their treatment and survivorship.
For anyone who has ever doubted the power of one advocate, and one story, let Melissa’s experience reassure you: your story has the power to impact lawmakers, and in doing so, improve the lives of those you have never met.