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Sen. Betty Little feels good after cancer treatments

Sen. Betty Little

Sen. Betty Little is in high spirits after undergoing treatment for breast cancer earlier this month.

A longtime state senator for the 45th District, Little, R-Queensbury, said she decided to come forward about her diagnosis to raise awareness about the disease and remind others to undergo routine cancer screenings.

“There’s absolutely no way I would have known if I hadn’t had a mammogram,” she said.

Little, who just turned 80, is set to retire at the end of the year after serving 25 years in the state’s Legislature. She first shared her diagnosis with WNYT-TV NewsChannel 13.

Little said her doctors discovered a mass during a routine mammogram she underwent in July. After a series of tests confirmed the mass was cancerous, she underwent a lumpectomy at Glens Falls Hospital on Oct. 8 and completed 10 rounds of radiation over a five-day period.

She’s still undergoing follow-up exams but has completed treatment.

“I feel good,” she said.

She continued to meet with constituents in between treatments, but restricted her travel and passed on attending larger events because of concerns about the pandemic.

On Wednesday, she told the Post-Star she wasn’t always as open about sharing the news, admitting she hid it from her own family at first until she had a better understanding of her treatment options.

“Until I knew what the procedure was going to be and that it was definite and everything else, I kind of kept it to myself,” she said.

Little said it was her daughter who convinced her to share her story publicly, and with October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, she reached out to NewsChannel 13 and arranged an interview to get the word out.

“If it helps just one or two people, I’ll be grateful,” she said.

Little said she’s “fortunate” the cancer was detected early, and she’s hopeful it will serve as a reminder that cancer can happen to anyone.

“I’m not different from anybody,” she said.

A longtime member of the Senate’s Health Committee, Little has spent much of her career in Albany fighting for better health care services and expanded access to routine screenings like mammograms and prostate exams.

New Yorkers without health insurance can receive early detection screenings at no cost, and the state’s “Essential New York” insurance policy allows qualified New Yorkers to receive health insurance for as little as $20 a month, Little said.

The outpouring of support since the news broke has been overwhelming, Little said.

She has taken calls from various colleagues in the Legislature, including Assembly Majority Leader Carl Heastie, D-Bronx.

Sen. Rob Ortt, the Senate minority leader, put out a statement on Tuesday, asking residents of the North Country to remain committed to Little as she prepares to retire.

“We ask everyone to keep Betty’s good health in their thoughts and prayers,” Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, said in a statement.

“It’s amazing. I wasn’t sure it was going to gain this much attention. I wasn’t looking for attention, I was just looking to do something positive about it,” Little said.

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