|Date of diagnosis:|
Sept 25, 2010
|Age at time of diagnosis:|
Stage of diagnosis:
|Stage 4 |
|Last 'NORMAL' Mammogram: |
11 months earlier
How was cancer diagnosed?
Her name was Lori Ann Brown, and to know her was to love her. For over 31 years, I was honored to call her my wife and best friend. Lori Ann was a true Rhode Islander…She loved the ocean, but yet would never go in it, lest a fish or piece of seaweed might touch her. She enjoyed simple dinners near the water, often splitting an order of Fish & Chips with me at Iggy’s in Narragansett, and always making sure to save room for their doughboys. She loved the new green buds on the trees in the spring for it signaled the end of winter…God she hated the winter. Warm summer days would give way to cool fall nights and the beginning of the holiday season. She loved to decorate the house for every occasion beginning with Halloween…her favorite. Our love of family, friends and travel brought us too many beautiful places. It was when we returned from a trip to Italy in 2010 that she was given news that would alter the lives of our family and friends forever.
At 47 years old, Lori was diagnosed with stage 4-breast cancer. I’m sure that I was in shock and didn’t understand what that meant, only to be told later that there was no stage 5. While none of us could understand why any of this was happening to her, she handled it with extreme bravery and compassion for others who suffered the same fate. She never let her illness consume what was left of her life…not for a minute. The final 4 years of her life would include countless treatments and doctors’ visits, but more importantly, she would get a chance to experience her lifelong dreams. Lori and I were blessed to see both of our children, Lauren & David, Jr., graduate from college, something neither of us ever did. We got to see Lauren get married, and finally witness the birth of our grandson, Benjamin David. Unfortunately, her time was near and she realized that she would not get a chance to see Benjamin David grow up.
I clearly remember standing by a row of dusty file cabinets at work when I received a call from her doctor telling me that he had exhausted all methods of treatments to save Lori. This was clearly the worst phone call of my life. The doctor suggested moving her to a hospice center. It was time to end my wife’s suffering. Little did I know at the time, that this decision would alter the course of my life as I had known it. Lori Ann passed away from breast cancer at the age of 51.
EPILOGUE: Her husband of 31 years, David reports that Lori Ann never missed her annual mammography screening. She spiked a fever and at the emergency room a CAT Scan was ordered/Lori was later diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to distant organs. David later discovered that Lori Ann's NORMAL mammography reports, generated by the radiologist to her doctors, reported, year after year, that Lori Ann had dense breast tissue. Her dense tissue and its impact on the reliability of her mammogram was NEVER disclosed to her. Lori Ann is another tragic example of a fatal flaw in breast cancer screening - giving women with dense breast tissue access to adjunct screening to find cancer at its earliest stage.
Lori Ann and David celebrating life on their 30th wedding anniversary. Lori Ann died within the year.
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Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.
Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 1/4 of post menopausal women have dense breast tissue.
Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.
American College of Radiology describes women with "Dense Breast Tissue" as having a higher than average risk of Breast Cancer.
While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest breasts.
A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.
Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.
A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.
Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.
There are too many women who are unaware of their breast density, believe their “Happy Gram” when it reports no significant findings and are at risk of receiving a later stage cancer diagnosis.