Karmanos Ovarian Cancer Survivor Helped Accomplish Michigan’s Oral Chemo Fairness Bill Passage, Signing – But She’s Not Done

Marcie Paul is a tireless advocate for cancer patients. Through more than a decade of advocacy work to expand access to cancer care through research funding and education, Paul is doing a great deal to contribute to improved outcomes for patients who hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’

Recently, while serving as deputy district lead for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Paul helped secure passage of Michigan’s legislation aimed at lowering health care costs for thousands of cancer patients. The legislation requires insurance coverage for orally administered chemotherapy medications to equal the coverage of other forms of chemotherapy. The legislation, which Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed in October 2023, also establishes co-pay limits for oral cancer medications.

“It’s pretty huge!” Paul said. “Without this legislation, the extremely high copays of the newer oral medications can put these lifesaving treatments out of reach for a significant portion of cancer patients. So, it’s really about fairness.”

The accomplishment of signing the oral chemotherapy bill into law was 15 years in the making, and Paul was there with boots on the ground in Lansing, calling, emailing, and meeting with numerous legislators. Michigan is the 44th state to pass the law.


Survivor. Advocate. Mom.

Paul was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2009. Stage IIIC indicates the tumor was found in one or both ovaries and spread outside the pelvis to other parts of the abdomen, nearby lymph nodes, or both. During her treatment, she had the determination to make a difference. Paul said her then 12-year-old daughter was one of her driving forces to make a difference for other women in their battle to survive.

“When I was first diagnosed, the two things I wanted was to meet people who had survived this cancer because our mortality rates are so dismal. The second thing I wanted to know was how to make those odds better and generate more research funding because my life depends on it. My daughter’s life could depend on it,” she shared.

Paul’s treatment included surgery and chemotherapy. Her gynecologic oncologist was Robert Morris, M.D., leader of Karmanos' Gynecologic Oncology Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). In 2009, Dr. Morris held clinics at both the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit and at Karmanos’ Weisberg Cancer Center in Farmington Hills, where Paul received her chemotherapy treatments. Currently, Dr. Morris still practices in Detroit but now sees patients at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Port Huron.

“Since the first day we met, Marcie has been a force to reckon with,” Dr. Morris recalled. “She was always armed with current data and an endless drive to improve her chances, as well as the outcomes of all women with ovarian cancer.”

Soon after completing her treatment, her education and advocacy work began. In 2011, she became a patient mentor and served as vice president of the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance. Paul got involved with Karmanos’ Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) in 2015, eventually serving as chair and co-chair, and the Karmanos Cancer Advocacy Program (KCAP). From there, she became involved in many advocacy initiatives with local, state and national organizations. Paul said staying involved made her feel proactive about her disease and setting a positive example for her daughter.

“I didn’t want to give in to feeling sick because of her. I wanted my daughter to learn something positive, no matter the outcome. I wanted her to learn how you can deal with adversity.”

Paul has not had a recurrence of cancer and has survived more than 10 years since her diagnosis and treatment, which is rare for women diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer.

“Marcie has certainly beaten the odds. Admirably, she is repaying that good favor. She has taken that opportunity and furthered the care of all women with ovarian cancer,” Dr. Morris said.


Late-stage ovarian cancer diagnoses + Diminished survival rates = Fight harder

“There’s not a lot of us that live long enough to continue the advocacy work, and that’s why I feel compelled to do it to this day,” Paul said.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), only about 20% of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage. ACS estimates more than 19,600 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and more than 12,700 will die from the disease in 2024.

Paul believes learning more about ovarian cancer through more research and education is imperative to increasing early-stage diagnoses and survival rates for patients. She is actively lobbying at the federal level for increased research funding and better access to care, such as oral chemotherapy drugs. She is also advocating for federal legislation to secure Medicare coverage of genetic testing for people with ovaries who have a family history of cancer and may carry a gene that increases their risk of developing ovarian cancer.

“Right now, Medicare only covers genetic testing if you’re diagnosed with cancer, but it’s kind of like ‘the horse is out of the barn’ at that point,” she said. “We want Medicare to pay for genetic testing for people before they are diagnosed.”

In the time that she has been doing advocacy work, Paul said research funding has increased by more than 30%. Currently, she is lobbying, educating, and advocating on nearly a dozen initiatives and legislative policy issues related to ovarian cancer treatment and care. She is active with multiple cancer-focused organizations and initiatives, including KCAP and PFAC, and she has no plans to stop any time soon. Paul hopes more survivors will join the fight.

“It will take us talking to our legislators and going to Washington to fight for what we need. We might be small in numbers, but we’re pretty mighty.”


If you or a loved one is diagnosed with ovarian cancer or any other gynecologic cancer, being seen by a gynecologic oncology specialist is crucial to receiving the best treatment therapies available. Physicians in our Gynecologic Oncology MDT are focused solely on treating gynecologic cancers. Visit karmanos.org or call 1-800-KARMANOS to learn more.