Facing a cancer diagnosis is terrifying. When I was diagnosed with my first melanoma in 2015, I was halfway through grad school and working for my dream organization. I was terrified that my future was being taken away from me so early. Fortunately, scientific advances have made melanoma much more treatable, especially when caught early like mine was.
However, health insurance hasn’t kept up with the innovation of medical care. I’m a four-time melanoma survivor and thankful to have been diagnosed at stage 1b or earlier each time. At some point, if I develop a later stage melanoma, biomarker testing will likely be used to determine which immunotherapy would be most effective in treating me. Melanoma can become deadly in as little as six weeks so removing the barriers to biomarker testing are crucial. Three of my four diagnoses occurred during the pandemic when there were already a lot of delays in health care. Insurance barriers to treatment should never be one of them.
For too many people in our state, their insurance won’t cover the biomarker testing they need to determine the best treatment for their diagnosis. Thankfully, the Minnesota Legislature is considering bills SF1948 and HF 1978 that will expand access to biomarker testing. I’m urging my lawmakers, Senator Erin Murphy and Representative Kaohly Vang Her to support this legislation and help ensure Minnesotans have the opportunity to get the right treatment at the right time. For me and so many others, it could be lifesaving.
Volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), St. Paul
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