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Viewpoint: Trevor's Law is now being fully implemented

Trevor Schaefer discusses the impact his namesake cancer cluster law should have.

BOISE, Idaho — Trevor's Law is now being fully implemented. In December of 2022, the final step in that effort was taken. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released revised cancer cluster guidelines based on Trevor's law. The law helps find cancer clusters in communities caused by environmental issues. It mandates federal assistance to those communities experiencing contamination.

For the Idaho boy the law is named after, it's been a long journey to get to this point. He is now a full-grown man of 33 years old.

Trevor Schaefer was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2002 when he was 13 years old. He and his family believe contaminated water where he grew up in Valley County caused his cancer. His mom did research and found that four other kids came down with the same type of brain cancer.

Since that time, Schaefer and his mom have worked to make sure communities hit by cancer clusters get the help they deserve. It took a while.
In 2016, President Barack Obama signed Trevor's Law. President Donald Trump gave $1 million in funding for the initiative in 2018. Then the CDC started revising cancer cluster guidelines under the law. It released those guidelines on December 8 of last year.

Schaefer says it makes it easier to define a cluster and puts more emphasis on communication with communities impacted by cancer clusters, and on collaboration with them to make sure they are heard.

"In the old guidelines when a state or local health department received a cancer cluster concern they could easily turn away that concern because it was very hard to define a cancer cluster because it had to be all of the same type of cancer," Schaefer said. "So, with this new addition, the introduction of unusual patterns of cancer, it can include multiple types of cancer in an area, which is a lot easier to prove and define."

Schaefer also co-founded the Trevor's Trek Foundation and serves as its executive director. It's holding its first Brave & Bold Gala Fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. on May 19 at the Arid Club in Boise. The guest speaker is environmental activist Erin Brockovich. You can get event, ticket and sponsorship information on the foundation's website www.trevorstrek.org.

This Sunday morning at 9, Schaefer talks about the impacts Trevor's Law should have on dealing with childhood cancer clusters in communities, his long journey to this point and the mission of his foundation.

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