How does an idea become a law in Massachusetts? Ask Brock Cordeiro of Dartmouth, who for the past year has been pushing to get through S1385, the "Pancreatic Cancer bill, An Act to reduce incidence and death from pancreatic cancer."

Brian Rosman, Legislative Director for Senator Jo Comerford, told Cordeiro yesterday that he was, "Happy to let you know that the Public Health Committee approved favorably the Pancreatic Cancer bill. We're so pleased this bill is advancing. It's a tribute to your hard work and ongoing advocacy."

The next step is to see where the bill goes next.

"It's possible it will go the Health Care Financing Committee, which oversees all health care bills. Or it may skip that step and go to House Ways and Means," Rosman said.

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At this point in a lengthy process, it's up to the House clerk to make that decision. That's where Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford will most likely guide the bill, that he supports, through the arcane procedural stuff.

"Cancer is an indiscriminate, nonpartisan, disease that kills regardless of political party affiliation or ideology," Cordeiro said. "Our response to cancer must be equally indiscriminate and nonpartisan. Fighting cancer must be forged in unity and solidarity to be successful."

The timing of this news is optimal because World Cancer Day is Friday, February 3. It's a day that aims to raise awareness and education about cancer.

"What surprises me most about cancer is how little we know of it," Cordeiro said. "Cancer is diverse but our understanding is often singular and insular. It's a word we use often but it's so common that it's difficult for people to truly grasp, or really respond to, with compassion and urgency."

February is World Cancer Prevention Month. The more we know about cancer, the more lives we can save.

See the ABCs of Cancer: