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State Senator grows teary about multiple sclerosis

State Sen. Noreen Evans was overcome with emotion Monday as she introduced a resolution to declare this week Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

Noreen Evans speechThe debilitating neurological disease has hit close to home for Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who said four close family members have struggled with it. Her floor speech started out shaky, grew steadier for a time, and then ended in tears as she spoke of how the disease often strikes people in the prime of their lives. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and state Sen. Holly Mitchell moved to comfort her as she finished; the Senate passed her resolution 31-0. The California Channel has video of her speech here – it starts at about 38 minutes and 45 seconds – but I’m having trouble embedding it.

Evans – a mother of three who announced in August that she’ll return to her law practice rather than seek a second Senate term this year – wouldn’t discuss her family’s specific situation later Monday afternoon except to say “it is something that has affected my family very deeply.” She did say one relative who had struggled with the disease passed away last year.

“I always like to try to find to turn a negative into a positive, and if I can turn this into a way of helping other people understand… then that’s something I’d like to do,” she said, adding public attention can help lead to more resources and support for research toward treatment, from reversing the disease’s effects to an overall cure. “There are a lot of people in our communities who struggle with this disease and nobody ever knows about it.”

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Fiona Ma invites you to a super colon

Nope, not a typo. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, sent out a news release this afternoon announcing she’ll co-host a “super colon” on the State Capitol’s North Lawn from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to raise awareness on colorectal cancer (and not – I repeat, NOT – as commentary on the state budget process).

Ma – along with Strides For Life, the California Colorectal Cancer Coalition and radiation oncologist Dr. Dale Hunter – will be calling attention to Assembly Concurrent Resolution 23, which declares March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. On display will be a 10-foot-by-20-foot colon, which visitors can walk through to learn about early detection and to understand how to prevent colorectal cancer.

Ma says cancer is California’s 2nd leading cause of death – claiming an average of 50,000 lives per year – and colorectal cancer is the state’s third most common form of cancer. About 65 percent of colorectal cancer patients have a survival rate of only five years due to low prognostic exams and early detection; studies have shown that early detection has helped decrease the number of new cancer cases over the years.