Hawaii News

Two-time Kaua‘i breast cancer survivor urges Congress to prioritize cancer care, prevention

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A two-time breast cancer survivor from Līhuʻe recently represented Hawaiʻi in Washington, D.C., as part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Lobby Day in September.

Two-time breast cancer survivor Uri Martos of Kauaʻi was part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit and Lobby Day in September in Washington, D.C. She is pictured here outside the office of U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda of Hawaiʻi. (Courtesy photo)

Uri Martos joined more than 700 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam to meet with and urge lawmakers to prioritize cancer care and prevention.

While in Washington, Martos met with members of Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation to discuss the need for support of an increase in federal funding for cancer research through the National Institutes of Health. She also asked lawmakers to support a bill that would waive out-of-pocket costs for individuals with the highest risk of prostate cancer, which includes black men and those with a family history of the disease.

Nearly 2,000 men in Hawaiʻi are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year; 150 are projected to die from the disease.

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Additionally, lawmakers were asked to support legislation to create a pathway for Medicare to cover new multi-cancer early detection tests once they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and proven effective.

Martos was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 at the age of 36. After five years of treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, scans showed she was cancer-free.

However, in September 2021, she was rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. Doctors discovered her breast cancer had returned and spread to her liver. Martos has been undergoing treatment ever since.

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Not only has she battled with her own bouts of cancer, she also has several family members who survived breast cancer, including her mother.

After meeting with lawmakers, Hawaiʻi’s volunteer team gathered at the Constitution Gardens in Washington to honor cancer survivors and remember those who have been lost to the disease during the annual Lights of Hope display. Illuminated bags decorated with the names of those who have faced a cancer diagnosis were displayed as a powerful message of hope.

“Cancer truly, truly touches us so close to home,” said Martos. “I do this work because of my family and loved ones who we have lost and [for] those who are surviving. Lawmakers need to know that volunteers from Hawaiʻi, and from every state and territory, are counting on them to take a stand.”

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