NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York’s governor is riding alongside music icon Billy Joel in a statewide motorcycle ride to raise awareness about breast cancer after signing legislation that expands access to screenings for the disease.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off his ride Monday at Sunken Meadow Park on Long Island with his girlfriend, Food Network star and breast cancer survivor Sandra Lee, and the “Piano Man” himself.
The trio joined hundreds of motorcycle riders as they travel into New York City, stopping at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan before heading upstate. The ride will end Monday evening in New Paltz.
Before the ride, Cuomo signed legislation that compels 210 hospitals to expand hours when mammograms are offered and requires insurance companies to eliminate deductibles and copays for the screening and other diagnostic tests.
“Early detection is the best possible treatment for breast cancer, but far too many women face burdensome scheduling and insurance barriers that prevent them from gaining access to the diagnostic services they need and deserve,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This ride is about spreading awareness and sending that message loud and clear, because when it comes to getting screened for cancer, waiting is simply not worth the risk.”
Lee underwent a double mastectomy surgery in May 2015, and had to return to the hospital for a second surgery after developing an infection from the initial procedure. She was later released and announced she was cancer free in September.
She went public with her diagnosis to help raise awareness about early detection.
“When you’re diagnosed early that’s the easy part,” Lee said. “And I can tell you how hard it’s been on me. An incredibly difficult year, but the women who don’t get diagnosed early, those are the women who really suffer.”
Some 15,000 women across the state are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 2,640 die from the disease.
Harley-Davidson donated a custom motorcycle for the governor to ride. It will later be auctioned off by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the governor’s office said.
A second motorcycle ride is planned for next month.
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