Editor, The Transcript:

When doctors tell you to plan funeral services for your daughter, it destroys your whole world.

Rheann had been diagnosed with a brain tumor so rare that there are only about 10 known cases like hers in the world. After four surgeries to remove a tumor that was one fourth the size of her brain and starting radiation, we learned the cancer had spread to her brain stem and down her spine. In three days, she went from an energetic five year old to barely being able to walk or eat.

Her radiation oncologist quickly developed a plan to treat the new cancerous areas with proton therapy radiation. Proton therapy gets rid of the cancer like traditional radiation but with less risk of stunting brain development and causing developmental issues. Proton therapy would give her the best chance at a normal adult life.

Within three weeks of starting the new treatment plan, she began eating solid foods then started walking again a couple of weeks after that. Rheann finished proton therapy two years ago and has been in remission for eight months. I have no doubt that proton therapy saved her life; I don’t believe chemotherapy would have done it alone.

We were so fortunate to have proton therapy as a treatment option in Oklahoma. Sadly many children and adults aren’t getting insurance coverage for proton therapy radiation, even though it is the best treatment option for their specific cancer and recommended by their doctor. I can’t bear to think what would have happened if they refused coverage for Rheann.

This legislative session, state Rep. Marian Cooksey and a number of her colleagues introduced House Bill 1515 to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives. This bill will help Oklahoma cancer patients receive the radiation treatments ordered by their physician for their recovery and long-term health.

Passage of this bill would mean Oklahoma doctors, not insurance companies, would make treatment decisions with patients. We respectfully ask state lawmakers to listen to their constituents who are paying ever higher insurance premiums only to be denied care when cancer strikes.

Please join us in the battle against inadequate cancer treatment coverage and help make a positive change in the lives of many Oklahomans whose focus should remain on fighting their cancer, not their insurance company. It is time to contact your state representative and senator and ask them to support House Bill 1515.

VALERIE FRANKLIN

(mother of 7-year-old brain cancer survivor)

Norman