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Advocacy Update
By Arin Assero
With a call to action and a little encouragement, IMF Advocacy team member, Meghan Buzby, gives patient David Cowan a new lease on life

It was an a typical Friday evening after a very busy work week when Meghan Buzby, Grassroots Liaison for the IMF Advocacy team, received notice that a hearing we had been waiting for on a bill in New Mexico, was going to happen in less than 12 hours. The hearing was to take place in Santa Fe on Senate bill 385, which focused on ending the disparity in insurance coverage for oral cancer drugs. This is an issue, as many of you know, that the IMF Advocacy team has been working on in various states and at the federal level for quite some time. We've had many ups and downs along the way—that's just how it goes in politics—but no success story, big or small, has touched me as profoundly as this one.

With the clock ticking away and the hearing scheduled for 10:00am Saturday morning, Meghan hustled to deliver a patient to give testimony that would help convince the committee that passing SB 385 was the right thing to do for the myeloma community and for all cancer patients in New Mexico. After a lot of searching, many phone calls, and ironing out numerous logistics, it was all set. She had determined that David Cowan, a 51-year-old patient from Eunice, New Mexico, would be our guy. While it is crucial for hearings like this one to have a patient present to tell their story and bring to life the issue, I'm not sure that Meghan realized that this patient in particular may have needed her just as much as she needed him.

David, who was diagnosed 5 years ago, had just recently made the difficult decision to stop treatment entirely. After two transplants, 15 bone marrow biopsies, radiation, and numerous other treatment combos, he had said, "Enough is enough." With the first of many phone calls by a dedicated IMF team member, a miraculous course of events put a whole new plan into play for our new friend David.

Stay tuned for more of the story next week on our website as David Cowan will be highlighted as the Advocate of the Month for April.

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from David's letter to Meghan:

March 20, 2011

Meghan Buzby, International Myeloma Foundation and Grassroots Liaison.

Dear, Meghan,

When you first contacted me with an e-mail about going to the New Mexico Legislature to testify for SB 385, I was excited to have the opportunity. Then I became hesitant and reserved. I was worried about my health as I was currently on a break from treatment and was not very strong. I haven't been on that big of a trip since I had my last treatment in Little Rock, AR over 3 years ago. Also I was at a point in my life where I had made a decision to quit my treatments all together after 5 years. This decision had been made with my wife also but she inserted a clause with me being the final word.  After a lot of praying and soul searching, I made the decision; I was quitting.

After I was contacted by you and before I had really thought about it, I was in Santa Fe, NM. I enjoyed the whole trip even the times I was tired. I have you to thank for giving me this opportunity. And I do thank you! That trip gave me a new lease on life and at the current time, I am going back on treatment at the end of April. I hope to keep doing things like this trip and talking to people. And hopefully you will have something for me in the future. Maybe even something fun. Who knows! You have been a blessing and you are appreciated. Keep up the good work.

This is my letter of thanks to you and the letter for IMF follows. If you need anything, call me or e-mail me and I will do what I will need to. Thank you! again you are quite the motivator!

Your friend in New Mexico,

David Cowan

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