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Teresa Heinz Kerry, Sen. John Kerry’s wife, is fighting breast cancer

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She found it through her annual mammogram, and wants young women to continue to get theirs, despite recent government recommendations.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, 71, the wife of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, is being treated for breast cancer that was found in September. She underwent lumpectomies on both breasts because a benign lump was found in her right breast. She will undergo radiation next month.

She told the Associated Press that she was undergoing an MRI when nurses in the hospital learned that the U.S. Services Task Force was recommending women not start receiving mammograms until age 50. Previously, the recommended age had been 40. The nurses were “so livid,” she said.

"They said, 'We've taken all these years to teach women to do preventive mammograms, and now look at this,'" Heinz said.

From the article:

Heinz Kerry said that the cost of mammography is far lower than the physical and personal tolls women ages 40 to 60 face if their cancer goes undetected early and they later have to be treated with aggressive chemotherapy.

"Chemotherapy is serious. It also costs a lot of money. It's very painful,” she said. “And it's very destructive of people's — most people's — lives for a while, anyway. So why put people through that instead of just having a test that's done, and it's done?

“So that's why I was so upset about that decision of this panel."

From the Wall Street Journal blog:

“I was diagnosed and treated for stage one cancer (two different types) in both breasts,” Heinz Kerry said. “The cancer was detected at an early stage thanks to a mammogram and the work of a remarkable physician who insisted on investigating beyond what the mammogram could show,” she writes, “I have had two operations and my prognosis for a full recovery is good.”

Heinz editorializes that women should ignore the new guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that stated women at average risk don’t need regular screenings and that mammograms in older women can be reduced to every two years, versus previous annual guidelines.

She opines that the task force is “predisposed to choose numbers over people.”

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HERWriter Guide

Diane - While Teresa Heinz Kerry is being identified in the media as Senator Kerry's wife, she is a formidable person in her own right. She is a major American philanthropist, and serves as the chair of the Howard Heinz Endowment and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment and the Heinz Family Philanthropies. In recognition of her philanthropy and activism, Heinz has received twelve honorary doctoral degrees. In the past she's put a lot of her focus on environmental causes and women's economic issues. I hope she will be just as passionate about women's breast health issues as she has a lot of influence and the ability to make a difference. She knows first hand that early detection is critical to a successful outcome, and has the economic clout to be heard when she speaks. Thanks for your post! Pat

December 28, 2009 - 5:54pm
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