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While Battling Cancer For 16 Years, Minn. Woman Pushed Congress To Help Patients

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A northern Minnesota woman devoted her life to fighting for cancer research funding.

Robianne Schultz regularly traveled to the State Capitol and the U.S. Capitol to share her experience as a patient.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27. She was just 43 when she lost her battle with cancer last month.

Robianne's Life Story is one of determination.

As Minnesota's lead ambassador for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, Robianne knew how to make lawmakers listen.

"I see all too often as I sit in chemotherapy, patients and their families having to choose between options to save their life and their life savings," Robianne stated as she testified at hearing that was recorded a few years ago.

Robianne trained other volunteers and encouraged them to testify before members of Congress about the need for cancer research funding and the necessity of workplace and healthcare rules that make life easier.

Ellie Beaver is on the staff of the Cancer Action Network and became close friends with Robianne.

"She never missed a lobby day over the past 10 years, and she was in active treatment in almost every one of them," Beaver said.

A tireless advocate, Robianne was also often tired as she walked from building to building on Capitol Hill.

"The chemotherapy damaged the bone in her left hip so it was basically dead," Beaver said. "She was basically walking around with a broke hip for the last five, six years. She would get out there and walk, even though it was painful, even though she was tired, she knew this was important so she'd go every year."

Robianne fought breast cancer for 16 years.

"Every time she would have a recurrence and doctors would have to find a new therapy for her to be on, there would be something cutting edge there that she could try and that really extended her life," Beaver said.

It also helps explains her determination.

She wanted other cancer patients to have better chances of survival.

Caitlin DeVos is one Robianne's mentees.

"I think she really inspired the next generation of volunteers," DeVos said. "Robianne's legacy will live on in all of the laws she has had passed that are going to help cancer patients, and all of the laws that are going to be passed following her death, because she inspired people like me to share our stories."

Robianne Schultz died on Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving. She lived in Perham.


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