Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao was fondly recalling 2009, when Gov. Robert F. McDonnell managed to come up with support for the school even in an especially tough economy.
It soon became clear that McDonnell, who endured a rocky General Assembly session this year, shares Rao’s nostalgia for his first year as governor.
“I did not know if he would be able to come through with the support that I asked him for,” Rao told an audience gathered at VCU’s Massey Cancer Center Monday, “especially given that his first year wasn’t his most fun year with the state budget being where it was and the economy —”
McDonnell broke in.
“I’ve reconsidered,” the governor said. “That was my most fun year.”
The exchange came at a bill-signing ceremony, where McDonnell signed six pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly to support cancer research, treatment and education.
There was a pair of bills requiring that radiologists performing mammograms notify women if they have dense breast tissue. Dense tissue, which is thought to be a risk factor for cancer, also can make it harder to spot tumors with mammography. The legislation was intended to alert women to those twin dangers.
Another pair of bills requires that health insurers cover oral chemotherapy drugs just as they do intravenously administered chemotheraphy drugs.
There also was a bill directing that money from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Fund be used for scientific research grants. They are to be awarded for research into types of cancer prevalent in Southside and southwest Virginia.
And finally, McDonnell signed legislation to designate every Sept. 26 as “Mesothelioma Awareness Day.”