A Call to Action for Women’s Medical Rights With Breast Cancer

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

I am not an activist for any cause, especially if it relates to anything that may have political or religious implications. I believe that everyone has the right to believe as they wish which is guaranteed by our Constitution. However, as a two-time breast cancer survivor, I have been carefully watching all of the controversy that has been going on from the testing of young women for the BRCA genes, through the universal health care programs, and now, the new recommendations for breast cancer screening and I am appalled.

I don’t believe that any of us has the right to play God and determine who might live or die. Barbara Jacoby

The latest controversy surrounds adequate screening for those with dense breasts. In a recent article, the following information was included:

“Given that more than half of women over the age of 40 in the U.S. have dense breasts, helping to ensure patient access to information about the impact that breast density and other factors can have on the risk for developing breast cancer is an important part of a comprehensive breast health strategy. Today’s proposed amendments are part of the agency’s broader commitment to supporting new innovations and methods to prevent, detect, and treat cancer. We are dedicated to working across the agency and with stakeholders to provide patients with tools and information to fight breast cancer effectively,” said the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD, in a statement.

I don’t understand why, when we have the technology and the trained professionals to decide what screening their patients should have, we would need the government to enact legislation to allow for these choices. And further, why do we need to continue to conduct government oversight on certified mammography facilities who are not providing adequate services to patients and their healthcare professionals by not meeting quality standards and are not adequately communicating with patients about their facilities’ deficiencies.

I have finally reached the point where I am really upset and saddened with the way that women’s issues are being handled in this country. Therefore, I am sending out a call to all women everywhere to stand up and be counted in the fight to allow our own doctors to make the decisions with regard to our personal health and testing needs rather than an insurance company or the federal government or special committee or any other group that might be devised. And if a facility is not up to standards, then patients should be referred to other facilities that are providing that top care.

I don’t know of a single woman who has not been touched by cancer, either personally or through a family member or a friend or co-worker. And every single woman who has ever had cancer or will have cancer is uniquely different just as we are different from each other in every other way. While guidelines are fine, there is no such thing as applying the exact same standards to every person because of these differences and for some federally funded committee to make such a recommendation is the most ridiculous method of deciding medical care for a woman that I could ever imagine.

I have had discussions with two women recently whose family members have had a history with the BRCA gene but have had nothing but problems with their insurance companies in getting approvals for the testing that they need. As a result, they would be charged the full cost of the testing, a price that they can’t begin to afford. What is the purpose of having insurance if it won’t pay for the testing and treatments that you need?

Therefore, I am asking every woman who reads this to share it with all of her friends and family members and to request that each and every one of us contact our legislators and request that they carefully consider how the universal healthcare is affecting women’s issues. I would also request that you ask those same legislators to additionally keep an eye on the insurance companies to assure that we get the testing and treatments that are recommended by our doctors as part of our coverage.

This country is not founded on the basis of the survival of the fittest or wealthiest but rather on equality for everyone. We do not allow the taking of another person’s life in this country by another individual, even in our healthcare facilities. By not allowing the tests recommended by our trained medical personnel, you are denying medical care to people who may ultimately die as a result.

I don’t believe that any of us has the right to play God and determine who might live or die. This is the very reason that we continue to fund research for better testing and better treatments and the discovery of a cure for every type of cancer including breast cancer. And the women in this country deserve the best that medicine has to offer. We are all in this together so let’s fight together. We can win if we are willing to speak up. Believe me, it is time that women receive equal treatment in medical matters.