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Breast cancer survivor champions a change in fertility treatment coverage

June 4, 2017 marked National Cancer Survivors Day, the same day that Melissa Thompson, a breast cancer survivor and political advocate for fertility treatment coverage, made headlines.

This Connecticut resident’s dedication paid off as House Bill 7124, offering fertility preservation for those likely to be rendered infertile by cancer treatments or by another illness, was passed by the Senate. The bill will now go before Gov. Dannel Malloy for deliberation.

Following her stage-3 breast cancer diagnosis at 32 years of age, Thompson opted to preserve her fertility by undergoing an egg retrieval procedure before her cancer treatments began. 

Thompson’s health insurance carrier informed her that it had “reversed their pre-authorization” after discovering that she was undergoing the egg retrieval as a result of her cancer diagnosis. Thompson was left to shoulder the $10,000 cost of this procedure.

Thompson is now being called a hero by helping to change state law.

State representatives were quick to point out that the bill in no way implemented a new healthcare mandate. According to Rep. Matt Lesser, the definition of fertility coverage was being updated to now reflect fertility preservation.

Sen. Carlo Leone shared how the proposal was one that underscored hope.

“This piece of legislation affords a woman the ability to preserve their eggs in the hopes that they can overcome this dreaded disease, in the hopes that they have a chance at a future family,” Leone said. “Who are we to take away that hope? Who are we to prevent that from happening?”

A woman’s attempt to preserve her fertility due to illness should not be up for debate. And thanks to Thompson this may come true for those living in Connecticut with the hopes that other states with this coverage gap will be bridged.

“It [HB 7124] will give newly diagnosed cancer patients peace of mind,” Thompson said.