Last month I read an article in one of my radiology journals titled: “Decade of ‘Normal’ Mammography Reports- The Happygram”. The article began with a story about a woman from Connecticut that had no family history of breast cancer and a decade of normal mammograms. In 2003 she felt a lump which was not seen on the mammogram, but was visualized with ultrasound. The mass was biopsied and found to be an invasive breast cancer. The woman telling the story is Nancy Cappello, PhD. Nancy discovered that not only did she have breast cancer, but she also had extremely dense breast tissue, which she never knew about. This rude awakening prompted Nancy to further investigate dense breast tissue and to find a means to alert other women of this finding on their mammogram. Nancy was the driving force behind the first bill in the nation to standardize the communication of the findings of dense breast tissue to patients. This bill was passed in Connecticut on May 20, 2009 by governor Jodi Rell. Nancy continues to work with legislatures throughout the U.S. to have the bill passed nationwide. Nancy is the founder of “Are You Dense, Inc” a nonprofit organization.
I contacted Nancy by email after reading her inspiring and impressive article and she promptly responded to me with appreciation for my comments. I thought it would be great to someday meet this woman who helped facilitate screening breast ultrasound across the state of CT.
My wishes came true, but not before I met another motivated and influential woman, Jan Kritzman. By coincidence, Jan and I were at a breast cancer event in Bloomfield, “Mondays at Milano”. Jan spoke to the crowd about her detection of breast cancer on a screening breast ultrasound for dense breast tissue, and she went on to say that a woman by the name of Nancy Cappello saved her life. Nancy Cappello! What a small world. I immediately introduced myself to Jan, explained myself and my profession, and informed her of my contact with Nancy. Come to find out, Jan has been working closely with Nancy and is one of her biggest supporters. Jan and I have been keeping in close contact since our meeting.
Last Wednesday night at a breast cancer fundraiser, “Drink Pink, Think Pink”, in Ridgefield, CT, Nancy, Jan and I united. It was a memorable moment to be in the presence of two persons who have truly made an impact on the lives of so many women in the state of CT and beyond. I like to think that fate brought the three of us together and I am happy to have gained the support and friendship of these two incredible women. It is rewarding to know we are all fighting for the same cause, saving lives.
Julie S. Gershon, M.D.