Please Join the Before Forty Initiative & Help Us Save the Lives of Young Women Around the World
We walk for the cure. We ride for the cure. We eat yogurt for the cure. We wear jeans for the cure. But there is no cure, yet.
There are millions of breast cancer survivors thriving today. Many of the them were fortunate enough to have caught their cancer early while it is still in the treatable stage. However, many do not. These women battle their cancer every single day because their cancer was found too late. Of these women, a large proportion are young women, especially African American and Hispanic women.
These women often get diagnosed with the more aggressive, harder to treat form of breast cancer known as Triple Negative disease. This name refers to the fact that the cancer was not fueled by estrogen, progesterone nor does it carry the Her2Nue oncogene.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women get their FIRST mammogram, or baseline mammogram, at the age of forty. Insurance carriers use this standard to deny coverage for a younger woman who wants to get screened earlier than that.
The No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation is asking you to help us help women who have never been screened for breast cancer. We want the guidelines to be changed. Women should get their baseline no later than their 35th birthday. Women of high risk categories, African American women, Hispanic women, women of Ashkenazi heritage, women with a family history of breast cancer, should get their first baseline at age 30. Studies prove that MRIs are superior to mammography in finding cancer when it is at its smallest, in younger women. Young women need breast MRIs for their baseline screening test.
The NSBCF wants insurance companies to stop denying coverage due to age, density of breast or insufficient medical reason for a proper screening before the age of forty.
- Increase awareness to young women about the risk of breast cancer. Inform them of the better prognosis and treatment options if their cancer is found early.
- Make the age of 35 be the standard for baseline screening. Make the age of 30 the standard for high risk groups.
- Get insurance companies to cover baseline MRIs and subsequent follow-up diagnostic tests if warranted.
- Increase awareness for African American and Hispanic women about Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Educate young women that African American and Hispanic women are at a higher risk of TNBC and have a poorer prognosis. The only way they can beat the disease, should they get it, is if it is found early.
Ferne Dixon and Gina Maisano
A Promise Kept... meet Ferne
Ferne Dixon was a beautiful, caring, talented printer who put off getting her first mammogram until she was 41, when she was diagnosed. But she had to fight to get it. She had no family history and as she said, “I wasn't taken seriously when I found my lump. I believe if the medical professionals I initially went to see would have taken me a bit more seriously and stopped prescribing antibiotics, telling me the lump was benign and I was too young to have breast cancer without even giving me mammogram or ultrasound, maybe it might have been caught before it went to the nodes.”
Ferne did aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and had a lumpectomy. Four months after she finished her radiation treatments she discovered her cancer had returned to her lungs which then spread to her liver and finally her brain.
Ferne’s tumor was Triple Negative. It had grown and spread to her lymph nodes.
If she had been screened before her 41st birthday, the likelihood that her tumor would have been found before it had a chance to become uncontrollable is high. She would have had a fighting chance against her Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
Ferne admitted that she didn’t think about mammograms or their importance before her diagnosis, “I just turned 41 when I found my lump, so was pretty on time in getting the mammogram. Although if I didn't have a lump, I probably would have waited to get one.”
This illustrates the battle that is being fought every day and young women, especially African American women, are paying for it with their lives. They don’t get screened early enough. When something is found a young woman is not taken seriously. The medical community needs to acknowledge this disparity.
Ferne was Gina Maisano’s best friend. Gina is the founder of the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation. She had also been diagnosed with a very aggressive Triple Negative tumor. The only difference was she had a baseline mammogram at age 35 and had yearly check-ups after that. When she was 39 a shadow was seen on one of her breasts. It was her tumor. It had the same features as Ferne’s. But because Gina’s was found earlier, she was able to fight the TNBC.
We do not want this story to repeat itself. Everyone should have a fighting chance.
We don’t have a cure yet for breast cancer. But we do have one weapon: Early Detection.
About a month before Ferne left this earth she said to Gina,
“I know I won’t ever fall in love or get married or have a baby. But I am really trying to fight this thing and I feel I have been blessed that I have survived as long as I have.”
Every woman should have a chance to fall in love and get married and have a child. Don’t let cancer rob another young woman of that chance.
Please Help Us Spread the Word. Please Take the Pledge and become an advocate for those who do not even know they have cancer yet. You can make a difference - right now.
We need your voices to tell your friends and neighbors about the importance of early diagnosis.
We need your support to change the national guidelines; make insurance carriers cover early screening; and educate young women, Hispanic and African American women about how this simple step may save their lives.
Our educational programs are active in local community groups, churches and college campuses.