Friends For Life: Teresa’s Story Part Two

(WLNS) – Doctors couldn’t see Teresa Hendricks Pitsch’s cancer because dense breast tissue hid her tumor on routine mammograms.

Today Teresa is cancer free, but even after she got a clean bill of health, she continued to fight for a bill that would help other women like her catch cancer sooner.

“I think of my life as before the diagnosis and after.”

Just like many women, Teresa had dense breasts. It’s a condition where breast tissue lights up on a mammogram the same way tumors do.

But even after years of mammograms, she never knew it until she was diagnosed with cancer.

“They all said boy, this cancer was really hidden on mammograms from the density. We’ve never seen anything like this before and I thought how come they all know that and nobody tells women that because I would’ve asked, is there another screening?” said Teresa Hendricks Pitsch, breast cancer survivor.

Under federal law women are required to get a letter with mammogram results, but the letters don’t have to tell them they have dense breasts and may need more screening.

“What I realized when I got my diagnosis was that the standard of care for screening breast cancer, we needed to change the game to find cancer early,” said Hendricks Pitsch.

So Teresa took her story to lawmakers in Michigan to change the law so every woman with dense breasts knows it.

The breast density bill passed and was signed into law.

“The doctors will know automatically, oh you got a 3 or 4 density, we’re going to send you this letter, it’s going to tell you you’re dense. Then it’s going to tell you you’re at increased risk for cancer and that’s significant ‘cause that tells you what it means to have dense tissue.”

While it may just seem like another law, to Teresa, it’s a law that could save someone’s life.

The law is set to go into effect June 1.

Teresa says now she’s part of a fight to change federal law so that all women in the U.S. know whether or not they have dense breasts.

She says she’s working with congresswomen across the country on the language of the bill and says lawmakers are basing the majority of the national bill off of Michigan’s breast density law.

Tune in Wednesday for 6 News at 6 when our Friends For Life series continues.

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