ICYMI: Boise brain cancer survivor impacting environmental law

May 19, 2016

BOISE — It has been a long journey for one local man who’s been a crusader for a cause for years on Capitol Hill.

Thursday was a big day for 26-year-old Trevor Schaefer – the inspiration behind Trevor’s law. A bipartisan group of congressional leaders announced on Thursday that his bill is moving forward, which is historic not only for Schaefer, but for environmental reform as a whole in the United States.

Trevor’s Law came about after he was diagnosed with brain cancer as a 13-year-old; cancer he believes was caused by contaminated water.

“It’s been such a long process,” Schaefer said. “At times we kind of gave up hope.”

But hope was renewed on Thursday when lawmakers announced huge developments in reforming environmental law.

“It’s surreal. I think it still hasn’t hit me after all these years. Working on this for seven years, the impact has not hit me yet,” Schaefer told KTVB.

A seven-year journey battling congressional gridlock to get Trevor’s Law passed. It was created to spark government evaluation of potential cancer clusters caused by the environment, which are clusters of people diagnosed with specific cancers in the same area.

“The impact that one committed young man can have on making a big difference in America,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R) said.

It has been a bipartisan effort with Sen. Crapo and California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) co-sponsoring the bill back in January of 2011.

“We fought,” Sen. Boxer said in a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Last fall, they attached Trevor’s Law to  a broader, historical piece of legislation that has support from both sides of the aisle.

“A cancer cluster provision was added to the bill. That was my bill with Senator Crapo to whom I’m very grateful: the Community Disease Cluster Assistance Act,” Sen. Boxer said.

When passed, the law will reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

“This bill matters to real people. It matters to the health and safety of our children and our families,” Sen. Boxer explained.

Because of Trevor’s Law, those reforms will require federal, state and local agencies to address cancer clusters in a community.

“If we can identify those clusters more rapidly then we can recognize that there is something going on in those communities that is causing this problem,” Sen. Crapo told KTVB.

Sen. Crapo says Trevor’s Law is a huge step forward in the battle against cancer in the United States.

“Trevor is just an incredible young man,” Crapo said.

After years of fighting for change, Trevor said he feels great.

“I never thought we’d be here and I never could have imagined what it’d feel like.”

Sen. Crapo tells KTVB he’s hopeful the legislation will see the finish line soon and end up on the president’s desk as early as next week. It will have to move forward in the House and the Senate first, but lawmakers in the press conference showed that it has bipartisan support in both chambers.