CATHY | 61

"Without the Brem Foundation, I would not be alive. I attended my first Brem event in April 2009. I was there just to keep my friend company. At the event, Dr. Brem taught us about risk factors and screening options. Specifically, she talked about the need for an MRI for someone with dense breast tissue and a strong family history of breast cancer.

When I met Dr. Brem, I told her that my younger sister died from stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer because she had no early symptoms and a clean mammogram. I asked Dr. Brem if my other sister and I should have an MRI. Dr. Brem said, “it's not whether you should have an MRI. You must have an MRI." Then she told me that if my insurance would not pay for it, the Brem Foundation would.

The following week, I had my routine mammogram, which came back clean—but because of what I learned from Dr. Brem, I knew I needed more screening. So I asked for an MRI. My doctor told me there was no medical indication for that test. Normally I would have gone home, satisfied with my doctor’s response, but I remembered what I learned at the Brem Foundation event. So I pushed my insurance company. They sent me to a breast surgeon for an MRI referral; she told me that I did not meet the criteria for an MRI. The Brem Foundation taught me that, to get the care I need and deserve, I have to be my own advocate, so I stood firm. After relentless discussion and advocacy, the surgeon ordered the test for me.

Two months later, I had my MRI. One week after that, the doctor called me back for a biopsy. The biopsy results showed that I had invasive triple negative breast cancer. The surgeon called me and said, “[t]hank God you pushed for the MRI, because the cancer was deep on your chest wall, and it would not have surfaced in a mammogram for at least two years.” The surgeon and the oncologist agreed that because triple-negative breast cancer is so aggressive, I probably would have died before it ever appeared on a mammogram. Only because of the Brem Foundation did I have the knowledge and the courage to push for the test that saved my life."