Testifies before Senate hearing on cancer clusters

Washington, D.C. – The hard work of a McCall-turned-Boise resident was on display today in the nation’s capital, as a Senate committee took up the issue of cancer clusters. Boisean Trevor Schaefer and his mother, Charlie Smith, have founded the “Trevor’s Trek” Foundation in an effort to bring attention to the possibility of environmental causes for cancer clusters nationwide. The clusters are defined as an area of above-average cases of human cancer diagnosis, and Trevor is a survivor of brain cancer.

At the request of Trevor and his mother, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo agreed to cosponsor legislation which could expand the research into cancer clusters. The legislation, named “Trevor’s Law” (S. 76), was originally introduced last year by Crapo and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California). The legislation received a hearing before the committee today, with Trevor and author Erin Brockovich testifying in favor of it.

“After surviving and recovering from this grueling ordeal, Trevor decided that he wanted to help children with cancer, and so in 2007 – along with his mother Charlie – he founded Trevor’s Trek Foundation,” Crapo said in his opening statement. “Through raising awareness and research funds and providing mentoring services for young cancer survivors, the Foundation is a shining example of how the selfless actions of individuals can make a real difference in the lives of those in need.

“I appreciate the opportunity for this committee to take a closer look at the issue of disease clusters,” Crapo added. “While we have heard quite a bit about them through books and movies, we have not had a detailed discussion about them here in the Congress. Thanks to the efforts of people like Trevor and Charlie, we will. Today’s hearing begins that discussion. I look forward to hearing from our experts about the scientific research behind the causes of disease clusters; the coordinated response between the federal, state and local governments; and any other information that may be helpful to us.”

Trevor’s testimony brought Senators a personal look at the issue. “Senators, nothing is quite so lonely as being a child with cancer,” he said. “Lying in a hospital bed and sitting in a chemo chair getting chemotherapy treatments and blood transfusions while other kids are outside playing ball and riding bikes isn`t exactly the childhood I, or any of us, had in mind. Our growth and social advancement may be stunted, but in other ways we are forced to become mature beyond our years: learning to be patient and resilient, and becoming courageous warriors fighting our own battles without any armor.”

The EPW Committee will continue consideration of the legislation before bringing it up for a vote before the full Committee. Once cleared by the Committee, the bill will be sent to the Senate floor. There is no current timeline for full Senate consideration.

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