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Advocacy for the Brain Tumor Community in Ohio

When someone is diagnosed with a brain tumor, they can feel distant or alone from family, friends, and others as they fight this disease. Head for the Cure and Brains for the Cure hope to combat this feeling by being an outlet for support, providing a sense of community and hope, and a helping hand as a resource throughout the journey. As a way to support these missions, Head for the Cure, along with the larger brain tumor community, observe the month of May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month, however it is not officially designated as such across the country. Some cities and states have approved legislation that officially recognizes Brain Tumor Awareness Month, and others are beginning to follow suit.

Ohio State Representative Jeff Crossman has first-hand experience with this terrible disease.  His grandfather was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 1986. Then 30 years later, his mother Rose was also diagnosed with the exact same brain cancer.  Rep. Crossman reflected, “In that 30-year span, we were astounded to learn that her prognosis was not much better in 2016 than if she was diagnosed in 1986.”

With an estimated 80,000 people newly diagnosed in 2019 alone, the average survival rate of 14-16 months for glioblastoma patients, and only 4 FDA approved drugs and 1 device for all 120 different types of brain tumors, Rep. Crossman turned his personal grief into action in honor of his mother, grandfather, and the thousands this affects every year. He knew the progress to find true comprehensive treatment could not be made possible if we didn’t have a true, dedicated awareness campaign surrounding brain tumors. 

Rep. Crossman sponsored the House Bill 230 proposing May as Brain Cancer Awareness Month in the state of Ohio. After passing the Health Committee, Rep. Crossman contacted several advocacy groups and constituents to provide written testimony to encourage a vote on the floor. A hearing was held on November 5th with a few representatives speaking to their own experiences. One of those advocates was Head for the Cure Ambassador, Sam Mierzejewski.

“A brain cancer awareness month is important because there simply aren’t many brain cancer patients who survive long enough to advocate for themselves,” Mierzejewski testified.

On December 12th, Rep. Crossman shared his story with the Ohio House of Representatives as he spoke about the proposed H.B. No. 230. In addition, Representative Scott Lipps, and the Ohio House Health Committee supported the bill and urged the House to vote yes on this bill. Representative Kyle Koehler also spoke to the support of the bill, specifically in honor of one of his constituents who passed away on August 25th from brain cancer, eerily the same day Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy passed away after their fight with a glioblastoma.

With 87 affirmative votes and no negative votes, the proposed bill passed the House and is moving on to the Senate.

“Head for the Cure was honored to help connect the Ohio brain tumor community to Rep. Crossman to partner in our same missions in building awareness for this terrible disease,” commented Jenna Heilman, Executive Director. “We need to continue efforts to pass this state by state to truly combat this disease.”

If you would like to join the fight in helping make May officially Brain Tumor Awareness Month across the country, please contact Head for the Cure.

View the full testimony here