When my wife, Mary, passed away after a two-year battle with breast cancer in June 1999, the people of Florida showed tremendous compassion to me and my family.
It was an outpouring of support that I will never forget because it was an incredibly difficult time. Mary was only 44 years old, and we had unrealized dreams that were robbed by cancer.
In May 2001, the Florida Legislature and the governor — I was Florida’s lieutenant governor at the time — created the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to provide a treatment option to medically underserved women diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer. It was a fitting tribute to a woman who was passionate about ensuring others could avoid the pain and suffering she endured.
The Legislature has continued to provide funding for the program over the years so that the working poor in Florida have the opportunity to detect cancer early, when survival rates are highest.
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The first two years of funding provided more than 6,000 women in Florida with screenings that they otherwise couldn’t have afforded.
Today, however, the program is at risk of going unfunded and leaving medically underserved women with no place to turn in their battle against the second-leading cause of cancer death. Florida ranks third in the United States in the number of new breast cancer cases diagnosed each year and second in the number of deaths.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 15,470 cases of breast cancer diagnosed this year in Florida, and 2,830 women will die.
This program is not about Mary’s legacy. It’s about the future of the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters whose lives depend on it. Delays in cancer detection and treatment mean more suffering and decreased survival rates for the women we love. Every dollar invested to prevent that is more than worth it.
Frank T. Brogan,
chancellor, Pennsylvania State System
of Higher Education,