Local woman helps push milestone kids cancer research bill into law

Posted at 11:40 AM, Jun 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-12 14:40:50-04

Kids fighting cancer are capturing the attention of national lawmakers and President Trump, thanks to the efforts of a Central Coast mom.

Guadalupe resident Lee Marchiano became a childhood cancer advocate when her daughter Melinda got sick and beat cancer 10 years ago.

Marchiano and the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer have been lobbying Congress to pass the Childhood Cancer STAR Act.

“Only four new drugs have been developed for childhood cancers in the last 20 years,” Marchiano said.

STAR stands for Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research. The legislation authorizes $30 million annually from 2019-2023 to study childhood cancers, develop new drugs, as well as treatments to address the after-effects of cancer.

One of the main goals of the STAR Act is to collect bio-specimens and information from kids, teens and young adults fighting cancers with the least effective treatments.

“It also provides for a pediatric cancer expert on the National Cancer Advisory Board so that children with cancer have a seat at the table,” Marchiano said.

Marchiano was watching C-SPAN as representatives discussed the act on the Senate floor and ultimately, passed it.

“It was overwhelming to me,” Marchiano said. “I wept. I just wept.”

Then, on Tuesday, June 5, President Trump signed the Childhood Cancer STAR Act into law.

“When I found out President Trump was going to sign the bill – I don’t have words,” Marchiano said.

It’s a huge step and victory for Marchiano and all families who’ve been impacted by childhood cancer.

Now, Marchiano and the Coalition are pushing lawmakers to secure $30 million a year, for five years, to fund the special research.

After losing Ryan Teixiera and Lexi Brown to cancer, plus watching many other local kids battle the disease, Marchiano is asking her hometown community to get involved with her cause.

You can help out by using #STARact on Twitter to tweet at lawmakers, urging them to secure the necessary funding. Or, Marchiano also encourages everyone to retweet other tweets with #STARact.