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July 14, 2016

Doris Ann Price Given Courage and Dedication Award

2016-07-14 | June 25, 2016

(Boston, MA) — Doris Ann Price, the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) volunteer who has dedicated herself to speaking out in favor of patient protections while managing her own cancer diagnosis, was awarded the Courage and Dedication Award in a small ceremony here last night.

The award is given to volunteers who show bravery in the face of extreme odds, who dedicate themselves to the cause of patients everywhere, and who inspire others through their example.

Doris Ann worked in North Carolina, her home state, in support of legislation that would give greater patient protections against insurance barriers that block patients from accessing their prescribed, preferred medications. Her story was widely disseminated throughout North Carolina media, illuminating the very personal toll step therapy practices took on her life and her health. (See: When fighting cancer in NC means fighting insurers, too)

Donna Kaufman, East Coast Representative for NPAF, spoke about Doris Ann at the annual Patient Congress in Washignton, DC, while Doris Ann and her husband listened by phone. Later, Gwen Darien, Executive Vice President, traveled to Boston, where Doris Ann is undergoing treatment, to present the award to Doris Ann in person.

The full text of Kaufman’s remarks are below.

I am honored to present the National Patient Advocate Foundation Courage and Dedication Award tonight to a well-deserving patient advocate in your ranks. I say with great admiration to all of you that without our volunteers, we would not be able to do the good work we do to help patients access health care in our country.

For those who don’t know my story, I am an Army veteran breast cancer survivor diagnosed with Stage 3 eight years ago while nursing my son.  As well, I too have been a volunteer and I am a former President’s Council member before I joined NPAF staff as the East Coast Field Director.

I share this survivorship connection with the volunteer of this year’s award. It was through our shared breast cancer experience that I connected with her. She initially reached out to me because she had an interest in advocating for NPAF, but we didn’t meet until she joined me in Raleigh last Spring along with Sabrina Davis to advocate for oral parity in North Carolina. Everyone thought we looked like sisters. I her sense of humor and her joking, pulling out her bright engine red MAC lipstick insisting that we wore the same color. I was impressed with her excitement about working with our organization and she became a leader in advocating for the rights of patients in her state.

She is a DC native by birth, but she says she’s a proud resident of the beautiful state of North Carolina. She is the mother of two adult children and the wife of a man who has stood by her side throughout her treatment and her relentless advocacy. She was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at age 46. Unfortunately, 13 year later at age 59, like many woman with early stage breast cancer, she received the devastating news that her breast cancer had returned and that it had metastasized to her bones, both lungs and lymph nodes.

Fast forward to today! She is alive 10 and half years later. She has bravely participated in one clinical trial after another she says to stay alive. She told me yesterday her doctor told her that if her most recent clinical trial fails that that she has reached the end of humane options. In other word, she joked, “That’s all folks.” 

 She shared with me, “Each morning when I awaken, I gratefully take center stage in the theater of my life, celebrating the unique and priceless gift to my existence (or as I like to say, letting my freak flag fly). What does that mean? It means that I embrace a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners attitude that flaunts the ME-ness of me. I literally wear this attitude, since I have been told I exude a strong life energy that doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone who is dying.

 As a NPAF patient advocate, she has been instrumental in moving not only oral parity forward, but she has been a key player in moving step therapy closer to passage in North Carolina. She has participated in direct lobbying efforts with boots on the ground along with me and others meeting with countless legislators sharing her personal step therapy story, attended coalition lobby days, wrote an OpEd which received widespread coverage in her state, been interviewed often by the media appearing on television, testified at committee hearings and most recently at the North Carolina Step Therapy Select Committee where I read her testimony which left legislators in tears and the opposition speechless, and is on a first name basis and Facebook friends with Representative Lewis, the sponsor for both oral parity and step therapy in North Carolina. She is well known by North Carolina State legislators who immediately will say to me when she walks into their offices, this woman needs no introduction in North Carolina. She was with us at Patient Congress last year, but sadly couldn’t join us this year because of her deteriorating health and is in her last clinical trial in Boston.

 She is a leader in the Metastatic Breast Cancer community. She is on the Board of Directors at METAvivor and advocates for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. She volunteers at Duke Cancer Center and is on the Patient Advisory Boards of Genetech, Lilly Pharmaceuticals and other pharmaceutical companies. 

 In her own words, “Perhaps one day my strong self-advocacy will stand as the hallmark of my legacy. And let me assure you that yours can too, once you direct your energy toward embracing the full spectrum of your life, acknowledging the pain, yet staying focused on your innate strengths as valued partners in your healing. I am ever mindful and grateful that my spirit continues its positive trajectory, rejoicing every day in the gift of life and continually advocating.”

 Those who say there are no heroes left in this world just don’t know where to look, but we do. They are everyday people “like this volunteer” who have chosen to give a portion of their lives to something bigger than themselves.

 Congratulations my survivor sister and friend!! Your contributions are appreciated and recognized and you deserve this award.

 I am humbled to present the National Patient Advocate Foundation Courage and Dedication Award to my hero, Doris Ann Price, President Council member from North Carolina.

 Sadly due to her cancer treatment she no longer has her voice and her husband Aaron Price who has been by her side through it all will accept the award on her behalf. We have them on the phone.