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Public Statements

Breast Cancer Awareness

Floor Speech

Location: Washington D.C.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Ms. BERKLEY. Thank you, Congresswoman.

I would like to thank both Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and my dear friend Congressman Sue Myrick for leading the charge, and a special thank you to Debbie. She did mention that we're next-door neighbors.

And I want to tell you, Debbie, I used to--you know, in the morning before I start getting ready to come to work--and I am always at work by 8 o'clock no matter where I have to be; it's usually by 8. And I would be sitting at my dining room table having my cup of coffee and reading the newspaper, and at ungodly hours there was Debbie getting into her car, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out where she was going at this hour. I said, Where can this woman be going?

But then by 8 o'clock I would see her at whatever meeting we were at. And I never knew until you made that public disclosure of what you were going through and that you were going through it by yourself, with your loved ones, but not sharing with your colleagues because you wanted to keep this personal and not tell people at that time. And I cannot tell you the admiration I had for you long before that, but particularly afterwards.

And, Sue, same thing. I recall distinctly when you were going through your treatments and how brave you were during that time, and it's an inspiration for all of us.

This is a very important piece of legislation, and that's why I came to the floor at 9 o'clock in the evening. It's particularly personal to me.

There isn't a woman in my family that has not died of cancer, of breast cancer: both my grandmothers, all of my aunts, my mother. The worst day of my life is when my sister, Wendy, 47 at the time, called me up and told me that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Given the background of my family, listening to this my knees buckled because I was so fearful of her fate. But because times have changed and there's early detection and better awareness of this dreaded, horrible disease, horrible disease, she was able to get the treatment that she needed. They practically killed her to cure her, but she's alive today and doing not only very well but she just became a grandmother last Friday. And that could not have happened in my mother's generation or my grandmothers' because they weren't aware of what they needed to do in order to protect themselves.

I am hoping that when we are discussing health care in this country that we are able to change the paradigm of how we deliver health care services to the people that we represent throughout the United States of America.

This is a perfect example of legislation that is important because it raises awareness for all women, young and old, but particularly younger women that need to know what to look for, what to expect, what are the signs, and what they can do when they suspect that they have the early signs of cancer.

I think the reality is with early detection, you can prevent these diseases and seek the treatment that you need so that you can go on to lead a long and wonderful life and have children and grandchildren just like my sister Wendy.

Women don't take very good care of ourselves. We're always taking care of everyone else. And the little aches and pains we have we tend to ignore because we're too busy during the day to deal with it. We cannot afford to let that happen because sometimes it's those little pains, those little bumps, those little things that we don't pay attention to that could ultimately lead us down a path that we don't want to go.

If you have a sick mother, you have a sick family because in most cases, the mother is the linchpin of the family. And if you're going to have a women that doesn't take care of herself, doesn't know what the early signs of cancer are, doesn't know what to look for and what to do should they suspect, then they're not going to treat themselves; they're not going to have early detection; they're not going to have prevention of this disease. And the entire family is going to be harmed, and the loss to the family is dramatic.

So I cannot thank you enough for introducing this legislation. I'm a proud cosponsor. I look forward to being on the floor and voting for this and pressing that green button.

And I thank you all, not only on behalf of the women in my family--those that have gone, those that are still here and those that are yet to be born--but for the millions of other American women and families that this legislation is going to help and to save. And I thank you both for that.

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