Tonawanda News —
That part of Maxian’s fight culminated when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in June that human genes could not be patented — but her fight to educate and help women about the disease continues.
“She went from patient to advocate and she’s done things on the national level,” Bartsch said. “To take something that is personally a devastating diagnosis and turn it into something impacting women throughout the country. Talk about lemonade from lemons. Definitely an amazing woman.”
Just recently, Maxian said, she gathered with other advocate leaders in Washington D.C. while the Supreme Court heard arguments in challenges to part of the Affordable Care Act that requires many employers provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. (Studies have found that women who take oral contraceptives for five or more years cut their risk of developing ovarian cancer by as much as 50 percent.)
“Yesterday, I stood on the steps of the Supreme Court with other women advocates ... and the Supreme Court is a very, very special place for me,” she said. “You don’t often get a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court. It’s surprising how far you can be taken when you begin advocacy work.”
Maxian also spent time with federal legislators talking about funding of ovarian cancer research and awareness. She was just elected to a three-year-term on the National Institute of Health gynecological steering committee, one of two patient advocates.
She’s been cancer-free since “very aggressive surgery” after her cancer reoccurred last year, but her fight to advocate for fellow patients and to make other women aware of the symptoms and dangers of ovarian cancer continues.
“It’s huge. I’m very humbled to be here. I’m very humbled to do this work. I take it very seriously ... because I know I stand on the shoulders of women who’ve gone before me,” Maxian said while sitting at her desk, surrounded by mass cards and obituaries and pictures of those women. “We really are effecting some change. We’ve seen an increase of federal funding, we’ve seen an increase in awareness. But we’re not there yet. Until everyone knows as much about their gynecological health as they should know ... our work isn’t done.”