New breast cancer screening law bittersweet news for husband of late Islander

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Breast cancer screening legislation passed in Albany was lobbied for by the late Teresa Montant of Shelter Island.

It’s a bittersweet reality for Shelter Islander Townsend Montant that the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo have finally taken steps to improve breast cancer detection by requiring that patients with dense breast tissue be informed that they may be candidates for further testing.

Less than a year ago, Mr. Montant’s wife, Teresa, lost her battle with metastatic triple negative breast cancer — a battle she might well have won had the new law gone into effect a few years earlier. The legislation was signed by Governor Cuomo on July 23.

What the law will require when it takes effect in six months is that patients whose mammograms show dense breast tissue be informed that they should speak with their doctors about whether further screening is appropriate. Dense breast tissue can hide early detection of cancer cells that may be life threatening by the time they show up on a mammogram. Such was the case with Teresa Montant.

She dutifully got annual mammograms, her husband said. But by the time a mammogram showed breast tumors in 2009, the disease had progressed.

While battling the disease, Ms. Montant became an activist working for exactly the kind of legislation that might have saved her life. And when she lost her life last October, her husband carried on the campaign, working with other activists throughout the area, not just lobbying for legislation, but doing his part to inform women he encounters about the possibility that they may need more than a simple mammogram each year.

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