Garner also reveals that she went straight from treatment to the June 26 rally at the Center for Civil and Human Rights to celebrate that morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down same-sex marriage bans nationwide.
“I’m supposed to limit how much I can be out in public because of the nature of treatment,” she says. “But this was just something that I could not pass up. Be-
July 10, 2015
sides, my partner was marrying people.”
Garner’s partner is Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison, who presided over the marriage of Emma Foulkes and Petrina Bloodworth that morning, making them the first same-sex couple in the country to marry following the Supreme Court decision.
Garner says the diagnosis gives her a unique lens through which to address an issue important to her during her 2010 campaign and throughout her tenure—health care.
“It’s funny. I look at this like, I deemed myself the ‘health commissioner’ right? So I’m getting firsthand experience on what it’s like navigating through the medical system,” she says. “I am definitely aware of how people are treated and I hope through this experience it will also help my role moving forward as a commissioner who is focusing on the health and well-being of all citizens.”
Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, is thankful for Garner’s favorable diagnosis. She also calls on others to take the proper precautions, noting that the Health Initiative can help people to access, and to pay for screenings.
“Joan’s story is the best of what we’d hope for anyone having to face a cancer diagnosis— to have it be discovered early, to be fully insured with access to quality medical treatment, and to be able to rely on a strong circle of support throughout the journey,” she says. “She has spent her career, both in the nonprofit and public sectors, advocating for that same level of support and care for all of us, and I am glad she’s finding it around her now. It’s my hope that we can learn from her story, that an early diagnosis saves lives. Get screened now.”