Most cases of breast cancer do not develop until the later years, which is why most mammogram recommendations don’t start until 40 to 50 years of age. However, for women and men who are exhibiting symptoms of breast cancer, such as a lump, rash, inverted nipple, or other breast abnormality, it’s important to get checked out, no matter what age you are.
However, many people can’t afford screening procedures like mammograms without the help of insurance, and most insurance programs won’t cover a mammogram for a person younger than 40. But in one state, at least, that will be changing soon.
New York is now celebrating a new bill that’s just been signed into law requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms for anyone age 35 or above. Previously, insurance companies were only forced to cover mammograms for ages 40 and up, and that is still the case for much of the rest of the country.
The bill is named after a young Long Island woman who died of breast cancer. Shannon Saturno was a mother and a teacher who developed breast cancer at an early age, and mammography was, of course, not covered by her insurance. She passed away at the age of 31.
“There is no doubt we need to take breast cancer more seriously, and Shannon is looking down on us today with pride knowing that the work she started is now the law,” says New York State Assembly member Kimberly Jean-Pierre.
Sadly, even if Shannon’s Law had existed before Shannon herself developed breast cancer, it still couldn’t have helped save her life, since she was well under the age of 35. While this is a huge step forward for New York, we still hope more will be done in the future to ensure that all women and men who are in need of a mammogram because of a lump or other signs of breast cancer are able to get one, whether or not they’re able to afford it. It’s even possible to develop breast cancer as young as your twenties or, in rare cases, teens, and no one deserves to die from something as treatable as most breast cancers are if caught early enough.
We also hope other states will follow suit and require insurance companies to step up and do the right thing for younger men and women who show signs of breast cancer.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?