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Cancer survivor petitions for disability reform

After being diagnosed with fibrolamella, a rare form of liver cancer, a woman is speaking out on behalf of cancer patients and survivors seeking disability benefits. Her grassroots work includes circulating a petition asking Congress to raise the resource limit on Supplemental Security Income be raised from $2,000 to $20,000 (to prevent the sale assets for qualification), and to take into account entire working career, not just the 10 years previous to application.

At the time of her diagnosis, a grapefruit-sized, malignant tumor was found and removed. A year later, the cancer had spread outside of her abdomen and into the chest cavity. Doctors told her that she only less than a few years to live. She has now been alive 12 years since being diagnosed with cancer, but asserts that her life has changed profoundly because of the illness.

Since diagnosis, the family has relied on disability payments for livelihood. The stomach surgery left her on a permanent feeding tube. In addition to suffering her own hardships and illness, she feels that she has a better understanding of how others in similar circumstances battle the experience of disability.

The cancer victim is speaking out against the laws that govern the benefits people are able to collect, particularly for those who are diagnosed as chronically ill. She is meeting with medical professionals, cancer support groups and is creating a non-profit organization to advocate for disability reform.

If her petition gains ground, this could help significantly improve the security and the livelihood of individuals and families suffering because of chronic illness. It will also help pave the way for additional benefits protections for those who are unable to work because of illness.

Source: Dayton Daily News, "Cancer survivor advocate for disability rights of all," Susan Dalzell, May 2, 2012.

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