November 20, 2009

Washington governor is a breast cancer survivor who is ‘frustrated’ with new advice

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rita_hibbardwebWashington Gov. Christine Gregoire is a breast cancer survivor.  And she’s extremely frustrated with the new advice coming out of the federal government advising women to postpone mammograms until 50 years of age and not bother to learn breast self-exam.

“I am a survivor,” she told KUOW’s Steve Scher in an interview Friday morning. “I would not have found it without a mammogram.”

Gregoire said she learned of her cancer because she sought a mammogram as she prepared her first run for governor in order to be able to announce “a clean bill of health.” Without that, her cancer would not have been detected. “I am one of those examples of why you do need a mammogram,” she said.

Gregoire, a friend of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said she agrees with Sebelius’ statements that women should consider the recommendations as just one piece of advice. She also has concerns that insurance companies will use the advice to limit access to mammograms for some women. And she is very concerned that the advice “puts people to sleep about a preventable, a really preventable, cancer.”

“I am just about as frustrated with this advice and how it was handled as I can be,” she told Scher.

Speaking of health insurance, the governor said she regards the bill coming up in the U.S. Senate this weekend as health insurance reform. But it’s a needed step toward health care reform.

“We’ve got to get something done, and the sooner the better,” she said.

— Rita Hibbard

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