A Mother's Legacy Makes Cancer Treatment More Affordable

FRESNO, Calif. -
   It's a story of a legacy left from a mother to a daughter, insuring people battling cancer get the treatment they need at a cost they can afford.
   Fighting breast cancer.  It takes a physical toll, an emotional toll, and a financial toll.
   No one knew that better than Bren Flowers of Fresno.  She battled it twice in 7 years, and it ultimately took her life. But she left behind an incredible legacy . 
  "I want them to know that there's families out there that are struggling.  It is a dirty little secret that people are struggling to pay for these things," said Bren in a 2013 interview.  She spoke as she battled stage 4 breast cancer, just before she testified in Sacramento in support of AB-219--  a bill authored by then Assemblyman Henry Perea to make the oral form of chemotherapy affordable -- costing a couple hundred dollars a month instead of thousands. 
  The bill passed, thanks in part of Bren's passionate testimony, but it's due to sunset, expire at the end of this year.  A new bill AB 18-60 would prevent that.  "What it would do is continue the benefits of AB219 without the sunset," says Sharon Johnson of Komen Northern and Central California.  Johnson says  Komen's California's collaborative has joined the American Cancer Society and Northern California Oncologists to support the new bill which was introduced to legislators January 10th. "Cancer is a challenge in and of itself because it can be financially challenging to most people but to put this oral chemotherapy expense on top of that is just devastating," Johnson says.   
  Much work needs to be done for passage.  But when the time comes for testimony in Sacramento, while Bren can't be there, her 19-year-old daughter Milan can .  "So what I want to do is carry on her legacy and everything she had started," Milan Flowers says.   Milan says her mother didn't shield her from the financial struggles her family endured.  And while the work in Sacramento didn't save her mother, she knows her mom would want her to help save someone else.  "She did everything she could and I'm going to do everything I can to continue as well.  To make sure this bill is continued," she says.
   One woman's legacy continues through her daughter.  Sharing a passion to fight a brutal disease, regardless of cost, with every piece of ammunition they have.
   Milan says she's nervous about testifying, but knows her mother's spirit will help her through it.  Sharon Johnson with Komen says they're interested in hearing from cancer patients who are using oral chemotherapy and could possibly help support this bill as it makes its way through the legislature.  If you're interested call the Koman offices at (559) 229-4255 

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