Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-LD40) is one of the prime sponsors of a resolution designating April as “Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month” in New Jersey. The measure passed the Assembly last week 73-0.
The legislation was crafted to help residents recognize the dangers of esophageal cancer and to promote prevention and early detection in a disease that claims the lives of 16,000 Americans each year.
Esophageal cancer is among the deadliest of cancers, killing one American every 33 minutes; about 17,000 new cases of this deadly disease are diagnosed each year. The cancer is more common in people who smoke or drink alcohol excessively.
Assemblyman Rooney said he was proud to support the resolution that was introduced by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, a medical doctor from South Jersey. Conaway was prompted to craft the resolution after being contacted by a constituent whose father died of esophageal cancer.
Rooney’s ties to the disease are even closer; his father-in-law, Henry Shotmeyer died of esophageal cancer in 2004. “I’ve witnessed how devastating this disease can be and I know all too well the impact it can have on a family,” said Rooney.
“The more we can do as legislators to help people become aware of health threats, particularly threats as virulent as esophageal cancer, the better it is for our families and our communities,” said Rooney.
The symptoms of esophageal cancer include weight loss, painful or difficulty swallowing, pain behind the breastbone, hoarseness, cough, indigestion and heartburn. As with most cancers, early detection improves outcomes.