Breast cancer survivor grateful to Benning

By Leslie Mulcahy

Like so many others, I am a breast cancer survivor. My personal experience revealed a cautionary tale that I felt impelled share with other women (especially fellow Vermonters).  The back story: without fail, I got mammograms yearly, always relieved to get normal results. Knowing that my mother had breast cancer at my age, I opted to request an ultrasound (just as a baseline for my record going forward). 

Leslie Mulcahy

After several denials, I pushed forward with some “creative assertiveness” and got the ultrasound. And to my surprise, TWO cancerous tumors were detected.  My “normal” mammogram (done a few weeks prior) failed to detect them due to dense tissue. Luckily, I caught this at an early stage and proceeded with surgery. Had I waited another year (as my “normal” mammo letter advised), I would have been in a tragic situation. Since then, I learned a lot about the danger of breast density. I also discovered that my density issue had been noted on past radiology reports, but never disclosed to me. I was infuriated. I had a right to a full report of my findings so that I could make informed decisions about my health.  I later learned that nearly 50% of women have dense tissue and many tumors are missed. 

I then discovered that a few states had passed legislation making it mandatory for women to be fully informed of their breast density. I was fueled with passion and I wanted this for fellow Vermonters.Not knowing where to begin, I reached out to my local senator, Joe Benning, for guidance. Without hesitation, he took the time to meet with me and hear my story. He asked questions, learned about this issue that effects nearly 50% of women, and soon understood that NOT notifying women about their density robs them of the opportunity to seek supplemental breast cancer screening and the lifesaving chance for early detection.

Senator Benning encouraged me to move forward, agreed to sponsor this important piece of legislation, and provided guidance and support through the process of developing S.157, a bill requiring all Vermont women to be fully informed of their breast density with every mammogram. I am forever grateful to Joe Benning for giving me a voice to help all Vermont women and raise awareness to their own medical rights. Senator Benning worked very hard to get S.157 passed.

The author is a Waterford resident

Categories: politics

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