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Congressman Sandy Levin

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For Immediate Release
November 14, 2006
 
 
JOHANNA'S LAW MAKES GREAT LEAP FORWARD
Federal Law Developing Early Cancer Detection Campaign, Named After Michigan Woman, Passes U.S. House
 

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak) today announced that Johanna's Law - a bill that would authorize a federal campaign to increase early detection of Gynecologic Cancer - has been approved by the United States House of Representatives.  Johanna's Law, first introduced by Mr. Levin in 2003, is named after Johanna Silver Gordon, a local teacher who died of ovarian cancer in 2000.  Levin, who spoke in support of the measure on the House Floor, praised Johanna's family and the coalition of cancer survivors, family members, and medical professionals whose dedication and hard work resulted in the House vote. Levin applauded the bill's passage calling the bill "significant progress for women's health."

"This is a real victory for everyone who has been fighting to get the facts out about gynecologic cancers," said U.S. Rep. Levin. "In this case, knowledge can actually save women's lives by ensuring that we detect the cancers at their most treatable stage.  I hope this first step with Johanna's Law leads to even more action, and we can leverage all the public and private resources at our disposal."

Johanna's Law (H.R. 1245) would:

-- Create a national public information campaign targeted at women and health care providers to raise awareness about gynecologic cancers.
-- Require the federal government to quickly develop a coordinated strategy for more effective outreach to women and to health care providers about risk factors and early warning signs for gynecologic cancers.

Levin first heard Johanna's story from her sister Sheryl Silver in late 2002.  Research revealed that Johanna's story - a late diagnosis despite her efforts to determine the cause of her early symptoms - was typical.  Like Johanna, many healthy, health-conscious women who were being diagnosed late with gynecologic cancers (uterine, ovarian, cervical) because they, and often their primary care doctors, did not recognize the risk factors and early warning signs.  That lack of knowledge was deadly as survival rates for gynecologic cancers diagnosed in early stages are 80-90%, while survival rates for late-stage diagnoses are under 20%.

"It means so much to our family that Johanna's Law has finally passed -- at least now, we're assured Johanna did not suffer or die in vain. In truth, passing Johanna's Law means a great deal to many people, especially the cancer survivors, family members, and women nationwide who joined forces with physicians and nurses to obtain the Congressional support needed to pass this critical legislation," said Johanna's sister, Sheryl Silver. "All of us were determined to pass Johanna's Law and spare other women and their families the same suffering and grief our families and patients had needlessly endured."

The bill was first introduced by Levin in 2003 as "Johanna's Law: The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act." The bill was reintroduced in 2005 with Levin joining as an overall cosponsor with U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Dan Burton (R-IN).  The bill passed by the House has been now been sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

"Johanna Silver Gordon's family was instrumental in creating this living memorial to Johanna, one that will honor her memory but also help save the lives of other mothers, daughters, sisters and friends," Levin concluded.

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