Trevor Schaefer of Boise not only fought hard and survived after being diagnosed with brain cancer at the young age of 13, but also he has fought for the last seven years to get legislation through Congress and to the President’s desk that will help others through the documentation and tracking of childhood and adult cancer clusters in Idaho and around the nation.
In 2010, Trevor shared his story with me, and he and his mother, Charlie Smith, and Susan Rosser proposed cancer cluster legislation. I worked with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) to introduce the original bill in 2011 and similar legislation again in 2013. To help advance the bill, Trevor testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), on which I serve. Trevor and his family have worked to raise awareness of cancer clusters and the possible links of clusters to toxins in the environment. The Schaefer Family has also helped build support for legislation to assist communities experiencing suspected cancer clusters. Every step of the way, Trevor stayed with the legislation and overcame many hurdles. His perseverance is an example to me and an honor to Idaho.
I worked with EPW Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer to write and include the Trevor’s Law language in the final compromise legislation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform bill. The bill, which the U.S. Senate recently passed by unanimous voice vote and the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 403-12 in May, was signed into law by the President on Wednesday, June 22.
Trevor’s law makes the following important changes:
• The law would strengthen federal agency coordination and accountability when investigating potential “clusters” of cancer;
• It would increase assistance to areas impacted by potential cancer clusters; and
• It would authorize federal agencies to form partnerships with states and academic institutions to investigate and help address cancer clusters.
The enactment of Trevor’s law is a significant milestone in how cancer clusters will be identified, monitored and treated in the United States. As a two-time cancer survivor, I recognize that cancer can come from many sources. This law may provide the answers to questions that many families face when confronting cancer, and finding ways to help Americans fully understand cancer clusters is important. Through increasing federal agency coordination and accountability and providing more resources to affected communities, families will have more information and tools to maintain health and well-being. The enactment of Trevor’s Law is also a testament to the determination and commitment of many people—including Trevor Schaefer and his mother, Charlie Smith—in never giving up on enacting this law that will benefit Americans nationwide.