Right to forget oncology, what it is and why the law is important

THEOn August 3, the Chamber approved the bill that would allow former cancer patients to maintain their privacy on the matter and thereby overcome barriers and discrimination. That’s why it’s important

Excluded from a Public Tender because once upon a time cancer patient. That happened Lucia Palermoa young woman originally from Caserta, who decided to start a petition on change.org to request that the rules for so-called be revised “oncological oblivion”, gathering over 32,000 signatures in just a few days

What is oncological oblivion and what does the proposed law say?

Before continuing to tell Lucia’s story, it is necessary to take a step back and explain what we mean when we talk about “oncological oblivion”. As the Veronesi Foundationthe right to oncological oblivion means “the right of people who have recovered from an oncological pathology they do not provide information or are investigated regarding his previous pathological condition, in the cases referred to in this law”.

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Michela Murgia and the art of living: a personal story

The text is taken from bill passed August 3 in the Chamber, a wide-ranging project that seems to meet important goals, such as those of the Anti-Cancer Plan, the European plan against cancer, which aims to improve the quality of life of those who have had cancer, so that “they not only survive the disease of, but live a long, fulfilling life free from discrimination and unfair barriers.”

The bill, the result of the synthesis of nine proposals submitted by various parties and by the CNEL, therefore establishes for cancer patients the right to maintaining privacy about the illness; in any case, after a period deemed appropriate by the remedies, because it is not relevant. Approved by the Social Affairs Committee on July 26, it also received the green light from the House on August 3 and will now have to go through the Senate as well.

Therefore, the new law will establish the right to oncological forgetting or the right not to mention the disease, after ten years since the end of treatment and no relapse episodes for adults thereafter 5 years for tumors that occurred before the age of 21. This means that the disease may not be mentioned in financial and insurance services, in the world of work (including competitions and vocational training, placements, services, careers and wages) and in adoptions and fostering of minors.

Lucia Palermo’s story: “Cured of cancer, barred from public competition”

Here, then, we return to Lucia Palermo’s complaint and appeal. When she started her application, she said she was forced to give up her dream not because of the disease itself, but rather to have it.

“I used to have breast cancer in 2021. I had emergency surgery, then chemotherapy and non-adjuvant radiotherapy (ie for pure prevention). Today I follow hormone therapy and I’m fine – he explains – I took part in a public competition for “psychologist in the Guardia di Finanza”. After years of study, a master’s degree, and commitment to fulfilling this dream, I was deemed ineligible because I had a tumor under observation. Due to my age limit, I will no longer be able to participate, but it was not my illness that destroyed my dream. Rather an ordinance, to which the notice refers, which equates those who survive breast cancer with those who are still ill. Therefore, considering post-cancer incompatible with military life.’

“If I have passed all the medical tests, psycho-competence and physical examinations and if there are several oncologists who wrote in black and white that I am perfectly healthy and able to do any activity without any problems, this is pure bureaucratic discrimination. – concludes Palermo – I think it is necessary amend this decree, given that cancer survivors today have the same life expectancy as those who have never had cancer. I think it is useful for all women who in the future will have the same problem and the same dream as me. As long as the laws continue to make the lives of those who have fought cancer a living hell, then salvation will not do much good.”

The Alom Foundation campaign: “I am not my tumor”

Palermo gives voice to many former cancer patients who, in today’s society, are denied opportunities for their disease. He explains it well Aiom Foundation (Italian Association of Medical Oncology), which launched a campaign renamed “I am not my tumor”, which has already gathered over 100,000 signatures in which it reiterates the need to pass a law on oncological forgetting as soon as possible.

“More than 900 thousand people, today, in Italy, have recovered from cancer and can find themselves living difficulty accessing certain services, such as the request for housing loans, the establishment of insurance and the adoption of children – explains the foundation – Five European countries (France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal) have already established a law on the oncological right to be forgotten, to guarantee these individuals the right not to declare information about their illness. It is necessary for our country to join those who have enacted laws on the right to be forgotten, ensuring its citizens a future free from the stigma of oncological disease».

Therefore, satisfaction was expressed for the approval of the bill by the Chamber: “It is the first fundamental step to protect more than a million people in Italy, who have overcome cancer but continue to be considered sick by society, with discrimination in access in services such as the establishment of insurance and mortgages, difficulties in adoption and employment procedures – said Saverio Cinieri, president of Aiom – We hope that the Senate will also approve the law as soon as possible, so that it concerns a clash of cultureswhich has seen patients, scientific companies and institutions at the forefront for a long time.’

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