WASHINGTON, October 4 -
Mr. Speaker, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is devoted to raising awareness and educating individuals about breast cancer and honor the thousands of women across our nation who have been diagnosed, fighting or have survived breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and it is estimated that this year more than 230,000 cases of breast cancer. In the great state of Texas, 13,856 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
In the Second District of Texas, I am proud of our local hospitals, school districts, and non-profits who promote breast cancer awareness and prevention during this month. My own staffer and casework manager, Whitney Rahim, has been affected personally by this disease. Whitney's mother, Cynthia Bryant, is a 5 year breast cancer survivor and a community volunteer for the Houston Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the Houston Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Whitney and her mother, along with friends and family, walk in both races to raise funds for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment. Almost everyone we know has been touched by this disease.
Last year, my friend John Garza with the Houston Police Department, received news that his wife, Virginia had stage 2 breast cancer. Virginia, like her husband, is a lifetime member of what is referred to in my part of Texas as the Poe-leece. It is an informal organization made up of my longtime friends in the Texas law enforcement community. I first met Virginia in 1993 at the North Harris County Criminal Justice Association breakfast meeting in Humble; she was then an agent with the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration). I knew then that Virginia was a fighter and survivor. Virginia is a highly trained federal and state narcotics investigator; she has worked for the DEA, Harris County, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Humble Police Department. When Virginia was first diagnosed, she had just started working as a Senior Investigator at the Harris County Attorney's Office and had very little sick time accumulated. While receiving chemo treatments for a course of six months, she never missed a day of work! Virginia and John have five children and four grandchildren. One of Virginia's biggest fears was not being present or helpful for the birth of their third grandchild, I am happy to report that Virginia courageously battled cancer and she is cancer free and she recently saw the birth of her fourth grandchild.
Unfortunately, this disease has hit home for another one of our very own from the Houston Police Department. Senior Police Officer Linda Reichert was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2011. Every year, she made her routine mammogram appointment and on that day in December, she never thought she would receive the news that she did. Stage 0 breast cancer. Zero was a small number in her mind but it wasn't until doctors discovered stage 2 cancer in her lymph nodes that she realized she couldn't take the small number for granted. It was an arduous road to recovery for her. However, after a double mastectomy, intense chemotherapy, and lymph nodes removal, she was able to return to a job that she is immeasurably passionate about. It was more than the medicine and surgeries that led her to becoming a breast cancer survivor. Officer Reichert exuded positive energy and happiness, even during her lowest moments. Hair loss and skin deterioration were part of her recovery, but with her support team of family, friends, coworkers and doctors at her side, she beat the odds that come along with this disease. Today, she feels top-notch with lots of energy and is back at work pushing her goal each and every day: making a difference in someone's life, even if it is just one person.
As a husband and father of three girls, I support funding for breast cancer research, screening, and treatment programs. I am an advocate for organizations that are dedicated to educating women about early detection by practicing regular self-breast exams and scheduling regular mammograms.
I would like to express my sincere admiration to the 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in our country, like Cynthia and Virginia, who have demonstrated courage in their personal fight against this disease. Their tireless work is an inspiration and a reminder that we must keep up the fight until there is a cure.
And that's just the way it is.