Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman SchultzA friend of mine who lives in Florida sent me a clipping from the Miami Herald newspaper about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, who I know nothing  about, apart from the fact that she was successfully treated for breast cancer recently. She has gone public with her story in the hope of raising awareness of breast cancer among young women.

In the past year, Wasserman Schultz underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and had her ovaries removed, as she tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene mutation.  Because her cancer was caught early enough, she did not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. She is now taking Tamoxifen.

”What I realized through the year is, I thought I knew a lot about breast cancer, but I really didn’t, and most young women don’t,” she said. 

Breast cancer in younger women can be particularly aggressive, but it can be more difficult to detect because of breast density. And physicians, Wasserman Schultz said, can be slow to recognize the threat to younger women.

”Young women go skipping along through their life, thinking they’re invincible, not worrying about breast cancer because they think of it as an older woman’s disease,” Wasserman Schultz said, noting that the focus is often on a woman’s first mammogram, typically at 40.

The death rate from breast cancer has declined for older women, but remains stable for younger women because they are often diagnosed at a later stage, she said.

”It just pains me to know that younger women, because they don’t know and because they’re blown off by physicians many times, and because they squeeze their eyes shut and hope that it’s nothing, that their death rate is much higher,” she said.

She has introduced a bill which calls for a national education campaign, aimed at informing young women about the risks and encouraging them to conduct routine self-exams.

Source: Miami Herald