FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Cancer is a disease that many Kentucky families unfortunately know too well.
Some of those who fought through it were fighting a different battle Thursday at the State Capitol though.
Survivors shared their stories to convince lawmakers to prioritize cancer-related legislation to prevent cancer from impacting more Kentucky families.
“I am a pediatric cancer survivor,” Heather Shaw said. “I was diagnosed at the age of 19 with Burkitt lymphoma.”
Posters detailing stories of Kentuckians, who have been impacted by the disease, lined the tunnel between the Capitol and the annex for Cancer Action Day on Thursday.
Shaw is one of the many people hoping those walking past see the poster that features not only her, but her mother as well.
“I got to know so many kids who were battling cancer during that,” Shaw said, discussing her diagnosis. “Unfortunately, after my cancer journey, about six months later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and we found out that all the women in our family have the BRCA2 gene, which means we’re more likely to have breast cancer in her lifetime.”
She said her grandfather died of cancer and her sister has gotten a preventative double mastectomy.
Shaw is among those working with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network who said they want legislation dealing with the disease to be prioritized this year.
“We really need to address cancer in Kentucky,” Kristy Young, Kentucky government relations director for ACS CAN, said. “This is still a problem. I think the legislature is taking steps toward that, but we really need to work on making sure that we’re addressing it the right way.”
Young said she wants to see funding to the state’s tobacco cessation and preventive programs restored at a rate of $10 million annually to help address youth e-cigarette use.
The group also wants to see increased funding for pediatric cancer research, and expanded funding for the state’s colon cancer screening program.
“Cancer is something that has affected my family in more ways than one,” Shaw said. “I really just want to make sure the next generation doesn’t have to deal with it as much as we did.”
The American Cancer Society states that an estimated more than 26,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in Kentucky this year, adding that 10,000 are expected to die.