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Posted by Stacy Tsai on Monday, February 6, 2012 - 15:45 | Healthcare Reform

Anne Creech is a 3-time cancer survivor who is an inspirational example of someone affected by cancer who now advocates for cancer funding for services, research, and education.

 

3-time Cancer Survivor Named to Lead Patient-Advocacy Effort

By: Julie M. McKinnon, Blade Staff Writer

 

Anne Creech has survived cancer three times in three decades.

The 65-year-old Holland resident is convinced that one of those battles would not have been as severe had she had preventive screenings at an earlier age. A large tumor was wrapped around the end of her colon and had been growing for 10 years, since she was in her early 40s and well before a colonoscopy would have been routine.

And Ms. Creech, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1982 and again 1 1/2 years ago, has struggled to find affordable insurance coverage that doesn't exclude cancer. Eventually, she was able to get assistance through Ohio's Breast and Cervical Cancer Project, which provides services to eligible women at no charge.

Those experiences and Ms. Creech's willingness to talk about them to lawmakers as a tireless advocate for cancer funding prompted her selection to lead state and federal advocacy efforts for the American Cancer Society Action Network. Among her top priorities is getting adequate funding for services, education, and research at the Breast and Cervical Cancer Project, National Cancer Institute, and National Institutes of Health, she said.

State and federal lawmakers, Ms. Creech said, need to hear firsthand about the effects of cancer.

Lawmakers should require insurance companies to cover preventive screenings, for example, and they should require insurance to be simplified so cancer patients can focus on getting healthy, she said.

"A lot of these people working on this don't have any idea the devastation financially -- and emotionally -- it has on people," Ms. Creech said of cancer.

She added: "I do think we should all -- all -- have access to health insurance, and it should be affordable, and more than that, we should be able to understand the policy."

As Ohio's lead ambassador, Ms. Creech will work with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. She will serve for two years in the volunteer post to coordinate fund-raising and volunteer recruitment, as well as meet with state and federal lawmakers to fight for laws protecting cancer patients.

About seven years ago, Ms. Creech increased her volunteer efforts with the American Cancer Society, including recently using her personal experience to advocate for access to care and eliminating pre-existing conditions for insurance coverage as part of federal health-care reform, said John Hoctor of the American Cancer Society.

"Anne's just a tremendous, tremendous woman," said Mr. Hoctor, vice president of government relations for the organization's east central division, which includes Ohio.

The ambassador position was created in 2006 to steer 18 advocacy leaders statewide and hundreds of other volunteers, Mr. Hoctor said. Ms. Creech is the fourth person to hold the position.

On March 20, Ms. Creech will focus on the American Cancer Society's Ohio State Lobby Day, when hundreds of volunteers will recount personal stories to remind lawmakers that fighting cancer must be a priority.

She also will participate in the American Cancer Society's National Lobby Day in Washington in September.

Ms. Creech said she tells patients to make sure they do research, ask questions, and get multiple opinions to make treatment decisions. She openly talks about how she was treated with surgery for colorectal and breast cancer, but she opted to forgo chemotherapy and radiation for fear of their devastating effects, she said.

"I don't want to sit around worrying about the disease," said Ms. Creech, who has four children and 12 grandchildren. "I want to live my life."

Read the article here: http://www.toledoblade.com/Medical/2012/02/06/3-time-cancer-survivor-nam...

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