Governor Andrew Cuomo led a motorcycle ride from Long Island through the Hudson Valley to raise awareness about breast cancer and highlight recent legislation. His longtime partner, celebrity chef Sandra Lee who is a breast cancer survivor, joined Cuomo. State House Reporter Zack Fink has the story.
Gov. Cuomo has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the importance of breast cancer screenings.
Cuomo signed new laws Monday morning at Citi Field in Queens. Those laws will keep hospitals open longer and waive copays and deductibles for screenings.
Climbing onto his custom-made Harley Davidson, Cuomo was accompanied by girlfriend Sandra Lee, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last May, but received a clean bill of health this past fall after a double mastectomy.
"The last year was probably the hardest do my life but you can always see when you go through a hard time what comes out at the end is a wonderful opportunity for every woman to save her own life and be responsible for her own health," Lee said.
Lee's personal journey inspired Cuomo to push for legislation this year expanding screenings for early detection of the disease, known to be one of the more curable cancers if diagnosed at an early stage. The legislation passed in the final days of the Albany legislative session earlier this month.
"Basically, it is removing the burdens to getting screened because getting screened is the key. Early detection is the key," said Cuomo, D-New York. "You have to get screened and we want to make it easier and easier to get screened."
Cuomo was also joined on the motorcycle ride by music legend Billy Joel, a friend of the governors who also shares his enthusiasm for motorcycles and boats. Cuomo was only recently granted powers to conduct marriage ceremonies, and Joel's was one of the first he performed.
"He did the marriage ceremony when my wife and I got married last year, and he's also my daughter's godfather so, it's like a family thing," said Joel.
Critics were disappointed that the end of the legislative session wasn't more productive in terms of big pieces of legislation, but for Cuomo, the breast cancer bill was one of his biggest priorities. He spoke to us about Lee's diagnosis and how it affected them personally.
"It has been going on for over a year now, and it's something that you live with every day and that adjustment has been hard, but I think as Sandy said there is a positive outcome, and this is a positive and we are going to do good things from bad," Cuomo said.
The motorcycle ride began on Long Island, came to Citi Field in Queens then moved on to Bear Mountain and finally New Paltz. This is just the first leg of the tour, there will be two more rides in July to different parts of New York state.