Delaware Governor signs 80% by 2018 pledge
On March 24, when Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Joint Resolution 7, he became just the third governor in the nation to sign the 80% by 2018 pledge to help ensure 80% of eligible Delaware residents are screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. The resolution also recognizes March as Colorectal Awareness Month for the state.
“Far too many families have been impacted by cancer, our legislative family included,” said Gov. Markell. “Early detection is crucial to saving lives, and while we have worked diligently to raise awareness, many Delawareans have not been screened. We must set higher goals for our state’s well-being, and today is an important step toward better prevention.”
Senator Bethany Hall-Long, chair of the Senate Health & Social Services Committee, was the sponsor of the joint resolution. She said she sponsored the resolution in order to raise awareness of just how preventable colorectal cancer deaths can be, while also honoring her colleague, Senate Majority Leader David McBride, who is undergoing treatment for the cancer.
“Colorectal cancer is preventable with proper screenings, so it’s especially tragic that it’s the second-deadliest cancer in our country,” Hall-Long said. “We’ve made great strides in recent years in raising awareness, but as policy makers, there’s more we can do to make sure those most susceptible to this disease are seeing their doctors.”
Sen. McBride, who in 2001 sponsored legislation creating the Delaware Cancer Consortium to help coordinate the state’s ongoing fight against cancer, said his own diagnosis has made him reflect on the significance of that group’s advocacy work.
“I really believe those efforts have saved lives by making colorectal cancer a priority, not only because it’s so prevalent, but also because it’s beatable and treatable if it’s caught early,” McBride said. “That knowledge is what prompted me to get regular screenings and it’s why I’m optimistic about my own prognosis.”
Shari Henning, executive vice president for the American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division, was on hand in Delaware for the signing of the resolution as well. “Organizations across the spectrum are embracing this shared goal: to increase colon cancer screening rates,” said Henning. “Delaware brings its own passion, competence and creativity to our shared effort. We are at a remarkable point in time, when decreasing deaths and suffering from colorectal cancer is entirely possible if we do more to ensure men and women get screened for colorectal cancer according to the guidelines. Testing saves lives, but only if people are tested.”
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia was the first governor to sign the 80% by 2018 pledge, and former Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky became the second governor to sign.
In Delaware, Beebe Healthcare, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care, Delaware Cancer Consortium and Mid Atlantic Consortium of Community Health Centers have signed the 80% by 2018 pledge, and Bayhealth Medical Center is working on initiatives to support it.
In 2016 alone, 430 people are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in Delaware and 150 people are expected to die from the disease. Currently in Delaware, approximately 76 percent of adults over the age of 50 are being screened.
“We know the numbers and we are trending in the right direction,” Sen. Hall-Long said. “But now we have to work even harder to reach our most vulnerable populations, and that’s what we’re committing to today.”
Large: After signing the 80% by 2018 pledge: Gov. Jack Markell (seated) and (left to right) Cliff Berg, ACS South Atlantic Division Board member; Shari Henning, ACS South Atlantic Division executive vice president; and Senate Majority Leader David McBride.
Small: ACS South Atlantic Division staff and volunteers attending the Delaware 80% by 2018 pledge signing: (left to right) Allison Gil, senior manager, hospital systems; Eileen McGrath, vice president of Government Relations; Shari Henning, executive vice president; Cliff Berg, Division Board member; Donna Reed, ACS CAN volunteer; Carrie Dahlquist, manager, state-based health systems; and Jeanne Chiquoine, director, Delaware Government Relations.