Before introducing a bill to improve breast cancer identification education in Connecticut schools, Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) offered thanks to the late Mary Ann Wasil, founder and leader of the Get in Touch Foundation in Milford.
Wasil touched the lives of millions of women around the world who are fighting breast cancer, Slossberg said. Wasil died in April after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.

“The world has lost a true champion for women’s health,” said Slossberg. “Mary Ann Wasil is an inspiration who helped millions of women stay healthy. With this bill I hope to continue her work, ensuring that every young woman in Connecticut is familiar and comfortable performing self-examinations. We talked about this bill the last time I saw her, and I know she would have been thrilled to see it pass.”

Senate Bill 428 makes several changes to Connecticut education statutes, including requiring that all public school students receive age and developmentally appropriate instruction in performing self-examinations for breast cancer and testicular cancer.

“Research has shown that students who receive this kind of instruction have a much better understanding of their personal health and cancer risks,” Slossberg said. “Familiarity with self-examinations helps detect the first signs of cancer and achieve early intervention.”

The Get In Touch Foundation, which Wasil founded, is a grassroots non-profit organization located in Milford. The organization’s central program is the Get In Touch Girls’ Program & Daisy Wheel© breast health initiative, educating girls in grades 5-12 on the importance of breast self-exams.

Numerous schools in Connecticut and around the US have adopted the program and it has had positive responses from students and school nurses alike.

“Given the ever increasing rates of breast cancer in the US and the particular growth of this rate among younger and younger women, the need for an educational program to help girls understand and ‘get in touch’ with their breasts for early detection is growing in importance,” states a release from Slossberg’s office.

According to Womensconference.org, Wasil was a former Connecticut police officer and spent nearly 10 years on the ABC soap opera, “All My Children." She also did film, print, voice-over and commercial work.

Her experience undergoing chemotherapy, bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery can be seen in photojournalist Christopher Capozziello’s 48-picture exhibit and video, “A Diary of Healing.” The photos chronicle Wasil’s surgery and recovery.

“Mary Ann’s unique approach to her cancer diagnosis was to turn the tables on illness by focusing on wellness for others; creating a resource that shared intimacies with other survivors; and developing an educational tool that guarantees a smarter, stronger generation of girls who would become women who knew how to ‘get in touch’ with their bodies, information, and each other,” according to Womensconference.org.

Wasil was 51 when she died April 15.

Now that Senate Bill 428 has passed in the Senate it will move to the House of Representatives for further legislative consideration.