Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre: Early Detection Critical in Fight Against Breast Cancer

Sadly, many of us know someone who has heroically battled breast cancer or whose life was tragically taken too soon by the disease. But early diagnosis--when the cancer is most treatable--can make all the difference. It saves lives, and that’s why I authored and passed a measure known as “Shannon’s Law” this year, which would help increase access to mammograms. I also fought to increase awareness about this terrible disease so we can do more in the fight against breast cancer.

Current law only requires insurance companies to cover mammograms after the age of 40. But cancer doesn’t always wait 40 years to strike. That certainly wasn’t the case for Shannon Saturno, who was a beloved wife, mother and teacher right here in Babylon. She was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant and tragically passed away when she was only 31. Shannon was not alone; research shows that 1 in every 227 women in the U.S. between the ages of 30 and 40 in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. 1

Shannon’s Law ensures that more women have access to early detection screenings and requires insurance companies to cover annual mammograms for New Yorkers aged 35-39, upon the recommendation of a physician A.6731-B. This measure – which has yet to pass the state Senate – is critical to helping more women get diagnosed and treated before it’s too late.

A new law that I helped pass also went into effect this year that eliminates annual deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance payments for mammograms, breast ultrasounds and MRIs. In addition, more hospitals and clinics are now required to offer extended hours to make it easier for women who work full time to get potentially lifesaving screenings (Ch. 74 of 2016).

To further raise awareness, I authored and passed a resolution to declare July 6, 2017 “Got Checked Day” in the town of Babylon (K.251). Got Checked Day, sponsored by First Company Pink, is a vital, lifesaving campaign throughout Suffolk County to educate young women about breast cancer risks.

We all need to take breast cancer seriously. It has already robbed too many of us of our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and co-workers. While much progress has been made this year to increase awareness and expand access to screenings, our work is far from over. If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other community issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at 631-957-2087 or at