Mr Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the inspirational life and work of Andrea Martin, who died peacefully at her home on August 6. A loving wife, devoted mother, and treasured friend, Andrea was a woman of incomparable courage. A champion in the fight against breast cancer both locally and nationally, she used her resources and creativity to expose a national health crisis and fight a critical battle. She fought for all of us by advocating for safer and earlier detection, less toxic treatments and research into environmental causes. Andrea's memory will be cherished by her friends and loved ones and by those countless women whose lives she touched through her relentless advocacy.
Born in New York City and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Andrea graduated from Tulane University and received her master's degree in French while on a fellowship at Tufts University. She moved to San Francisco in 1969, where she taught French at a local high school. Six years later, Andrea earned a law degree from Hastings College at a time when few women had the opportunity to attend law school. Five years after she joined the law firm of Crosby, Heafey, Roach, and May, Andrea left the practice to open Hog Heaven, a Memphis-style barbeque restaurant.
In 1989, Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that she had little chance of survival. Andrea's determination and strength of character motivated her to overcome this challenge. After a difficult year of treatment, she joined Dianne Feinstein's gubernatorial campaign in California and became a top fundraiser for Senator Feinstein.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time in 1991, Andrea chose to take the offensive. She founded the Breast Cancer Fund in the living room of her San Francisco apartment. Through her dedication and hard work, she transformed the Fund into one of the most influential breast cancer research advocacy group in the nation.
For the rest of her life, she would be an important national leader in the fight against breast cancer. Andrea was a relentless advocate who helped convince elected officials, health officials, and scientists to spend more time and money discovering and eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer. Her conviction to educate the public on the environmental links to breast cancer inspired the CDC bio-monitoring legislation that I sponsored.
Andrea ``climbed against the odds,'' literally and figuratively. Leading other survivors in the extraordinary mountain-climbing expeditions of Mt. Aconcagua in the Andes, Alaska's Mt. McKinley, and Japan's Mt. Fuji, she helped increase public awareness and raised over a million dollars for breast cancer research. She taught us that ``working together with daring, dedication and determination, we can not only climb mountains one step at a time, but we can move them.''
Andrea helped change how we talk and think about breast cancer--from a private challenge to a public health crisis that must be surmounted. She fought her battles like a fierce warrior, but lived her life with serenity and grace.
To Andrea's husband, Richard Gelernter, her daughter, Mather, her father and stepmother, Irwin and Becky Ravinett, and to all her family and friends, thank you so much for sharing Andrea with us, and with the countless breast cancer survivors who relied on her indomitable spirit. As Andrea's friend and colleague, Wanna Wright, so movingly wrote, ``her vision, like light, illuminated our lives.''
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