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My Story

Jo | age 70
Knightdale, NC
12 years, 6 months since her MammoSite treatment.

On January 10, 2007, I had a redo of my routine mammogram, which revealed a particular formation of calcification. The radiologist called me back to view the results and to explain that I should see a surgeon for a biopsy and needed to prepare myself for the possibility of a cancer diagnosis. That very day I began making calls to friends who had experienced breast cancer and doing my online research. Taking action is my way of making an effort to control the uncontrollable or, in this case, to control the way my cancer treatment went. I read online about MammoSite Radiation Therapy. I understood that only certain breast cancer patients were candidates for this option, but I remember thinking at the time, Hey, I can handle five days of treatment. If I do indeed have cancer, it could be a much shorter ordeal than Id anticipated. I felt less fearful right away.

My medical doctor referred me to a wonderful state-of-the-art surgeon who saw me right away, then scheduled the biopsy in her office for the following week. While I was having the biopsy done, I asked her about the MammoSite Radiation Therapy Id read about. She said that MammoSite worked very well, was a much quicker treatment and that I very well could be a candidate, to be determined by that days results, of course. Then she asked what insurance I had. She told me that my insurance was among those that did not yet approve the procedure, mainly because they had not reviewed the procedure in several years. This news felt almost as bad as a cancer diagnosis! I told her at that time that if it was what she recommended, I would fight for it.

The diagnosis came a few days later. It was DCIS, Stage 0, which made me (as my medical doctor put it) the poster child for mammograms and early detection. After my husband and I met with my surgeon, we decided that, for me, the MammoSite was so much superior to traditional radiation that we would pay for it ourselves if I was unable to get approval. I met with the Financial Coordinators for both my surgeon and the radiologist who would be administering the MammoSite therapy. We discussed amounts for the procedure in both offices in case I didnt win approval. All this time, I was incredulous that I was having to fight the insurance company almost as hard as I was having to fight the cancer!

My surgery was scheduled for February 5, 2007. Meanwhile, I ran off about 20 packets of information on MammoSite, and wrote letters about my particular situation and why MammoSite was my best option. I mailed or hand-delivered these packets to legislators, the NC Insurance Commissioner, and every name that Id been able to get for representatives from my insurance company. In a couple of days the insurance company called to say that they had scheduled a Level II review with an independent panel of doctors. The review was scheduled for February 2, three days before my surgery.

My story has a happy ending. Fifteen minutes after the review I received a call from my Insurance Case Manager saying that I had won approval for MammoSite. I had my surgery, began the MammoSite therapy a week later and had my last treatment on February 16. Remember, I had learned of the possibility of cancer only on January 10th and was done with cancer (as I like to say) in about 5 weeks! I learned this week that my insurance company has changed its policy regarding MammoSite in North Carolina and it is as a result of the fights waged by a handful of women. Ladies, we are also tough enough to beat breast cancer!

This profile is solely the words of the person who received MammoSite Targeted Radiation Therapy to treat breast cancer. Note that this profile is specific to this particular person, and experiences will vary.