Governor signs breast density bill into law

Published: Apr. 4, 2018 at 4:53 PM CDT
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Wisconsin is now one of more than 30 states nationwide to enact a dense breast notification law. A breast cancer survivor in the Fox Valley led the charge for the new law.

Along with her family, Rep. Mike Rohrkaste from Neenah, who authored the bill, and another breast cancer survivor, Gail Zeamer stood by Governor Scott Walker as he signed the Breast Density Notification bill into law.

According to Zeamer, "It was an exciting day. It was full of emotion. It was a little bit surreal, but I know that ultimately the next step here is to make sure that women are educated, educated about breast density."

Diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in February of 2016, Zeamer had no idea she had dense breasts and a large tumor went undetected after a mammogram.

She says, "I found out that actually dense breast tissue can hide tumors and it actually is a risk factor for breast cancer. I was never told this in all of the years I had been getting yearly mammograms."

Learning the risk factors associated with dense breast tissue, Zeamer was determined to make it a requirement that women in Wisconsin be notified of their breast density when getting a mammogram. This new law means women with the two highest levels of density, will now be told about their risk and can talk with their doctor about what's next.

Dr. Tim Goggins is an oncologist with Fox Valley Hematology & Onclogy. About the new law, he says, "It's really up to the physician to explain what that really means. So, a physician needs to sit down and say hey, you have dense breast tissues are you interested in obtaining an MRI and then the frequency of that."

After chemo, radiation and a double mastectomy, Gail Zeamer hopes her fight helps more than just herself. She adds, "It's overwhelming to know that maybe we can save lives through this law."