Debbie Wasserman Schultz Wants You to be EARLY

Tue, March 24, 2009

Moms & Politics

I’ve had a girl crush on Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for a long time, in my own geeky political mom sort of way. She’s more than just one of 435 in Congress — she’s a major player on Capitol Hill and really knows how to bring in the money for the Democratic party, even though she’s only been in Washington for less than five years.

No one had any idea that Schultz, a mother of three, had been fighting some serious medical battles until yesterday when she announced her proposed legislation called the EARLY Act — Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young — to make sure that young women know that breast cancer, and other “female” cancers, don’t just strike when you’re over 40.

In announcing the new legislation, Wasserman also revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2007 after a breast self-exam and underwent seven major surgeries in 2008 to deal with that illness. Given how much she was on the scene in helping Hillary Clinton, then Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2008, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

EARLY is a relatively small program in terms of dollars — only $9 million a year (compared to those billions being tossed about for economic recovery) — to teach younger women not only about the warning signs of breast cancer, but also about the genetic testing that’s available for early screening. EARLY would focus on providing information to groups that see a higher incidence of early cancers, such as African America and Jewish women.

Schultz’s announcement of legislation that would actually do something to help women is why I believe it’s more important that women be in positions of power than spending a lot of time on things like the White House Council on Women and Girls. Efforts like the Council are nice and I hope something productive will come out of it, but real change happens when women are in positions to become power players who can move directly past all the studies and reports and self-reflections and proceed directly to “Go” to make things happen now, not later.

Some of the most important words about the EARLY legislation came from Schultz’s official statement about the Act:

“Some people might say I was lucky. While I certainly was fortunate enough to have access to good health care, I didn’t find my tumor early because of luck. I found my tumor early because of knowledge and awareness. I knew that I should perform breast self-exams, and I was aware of what my body was supposed to feel like. We need to ensure that every young woman in America can rely on more than luck. Their survival depends on it.”

Photo courtesy of my fellow MOMocrat, Lawyer Mama.

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9 Responses to “Debbie Wasserman Schultz Wants You to be EARLY”

  1. TX Poppet Says:

    Considering every woman cancer has taken from me was under 40, I’ve never understood the no screening under forty policy most doctors have. Also you are 100% correct about women with power being the key.

  2. Jen Says:

    I know how you feel about her!! I’ve thought the same things. I love it when she’s out in the public bringing awareness to all sorts of issues… she never back down at all.

    Should we be writing our reps to get this thing passed or what?

  3. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I totally agree w/TX Poppet. Early screening is so important. And you could have knocked me over with a feather too!

  4. WMW Says:

    She’s a rock star in my book. DWS for prez?

    This makes her all the better an advocate on health care too. Get her on TV as often as possible!

  5. Julia Says:

    You said it, sister. I agree 100% on your point about action vs. reflection. Both are necessary, but women seem to veer toward the latter when it comes to solving issues. Thanks for helping spread her good message!

  6. Houseonahill Says:

    While she was campaiging last year, I did notice she seemed “sad”. But being a big fan of hers as well, I just thought she was tired because she is such a voice!

    I totally appreciate this post and all gals who are like her – and you (Champions for women)!

  7. Kelley Irish Says:

    Just hear a cousin has breast cancer-They think they caught it early

  8. PunditMom Says:

    Jen, That is a GREAT idea to write to our reps to help get this passed AND funded!

  9. PunditMom Says:

    WMW — YES! She would make a great Prez!

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