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AUGUSTA – State Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess is continuing her work to advance breast cancer prevention, research and treatment efforts across the United States. Last month, the Cumberland lawmaker recently took part in the "Breast Cancer Policy is Personal: Legislative Survivors' Summit" in Washington, D.C. to discuss cancer-fighting strategies with other state lawmakers, state agency representatives, breast cancer survivors and public health advocates from across the country.

"Attending this summit provided me with a platform to share my own efforts on cancer prevention and learn from my fellow state legislators and experts in the field," said Rep. Strang Burgess, a breast cancer survivor. "There is still much to be done to improve the treatment and prevention of breast cancer and address health disparities which serve as barriers to mammography screening and treatment. The opportunity to talk with my colleagues from across the country and learn from breast cancer advocates will be invaluable as I continue to address cancer prevention and treatment with others in the Maine State Legislature."

Rep. Strang Burgess sponsored legislation during the 123rd Legislature that created a specialty license plate that will generate revenues to support breast cancer support services. The plates became available October 1st and cost $20 in addition to regular motor vehicle registration fees.

Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer for women, after lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 182,460 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and over 40,000 women will die from the disease in 2008. Currently, there are approximately 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. About 1,900 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Rep. Strang Burgess is a member and state director of Women In Government, a national, bipartisan organization of female state legislators. Susan Crosby, the organization’s president, was honored to have Women in Government host this important summit. "Breast cancer is an important and challenging public health issue," she said. "This was a unique opportunity for people to come together and share their experiences working to combat this disease, while developing strategies to tackle the remaining obstacles that stand in the way of treatment and prevention for all patients."

Outcomes of the "Breast Cancer Policy Summit" included strategies to improve state tactics for breast cancer treatment and prevention. Discussions also included how to overcome socio-economic, racial and cultural disparities which can be barriers to access to screening and treatment services. Participants talked about how cancer survivors can play a large role in advocacy as well as ways to educate women and policymakers about breast cancer and the need for early detection.

Rep. Strang Burgess, who is wrapping up her first term in Maine House of Representatives, is a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. She representsChebeague Island, Cumberland, Long Island and part of North Yarmouth in House District 108.


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