Gov. Kevin Stitt today signed a bill that enhances requirements for health care providers who perform mammograms to notify patients about their test results. The measure is part of Oklahoma’s ongoing efforts to fight breast cancer.
Known as Nancy’s Law, the legislation is named for Nancy Simpson of Edmond, who lost her life to breast cancer in 2018 at the age of 69. The law focuses on dense breast tissue, which can interfere with efforts to detect breast cancer.
“Mammograms are vital tools for detecting breast cancer,” said Sen. Adam Pugh (R), Edmond, who co-authored the bill. “But for some women, they may not tell the whole story. Nancy’s Law will equip those women with the knowledge they need to take charge of their health and, in some cases, save their lives.”
Dense breast tissue affects as many as half of all women and can obscure basic mammography scans, making cancer more difficult to detect. Under existing Oklahoma law, if a patient is found to have dense breast tissue, when she receives her mammography results, the health care facility that performed the mammogram must advise the patient of this fact and provide information on additional testing options.
The new legislation requires those mammography results and notification to be emailed to the patient if she so elects.
“Our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters depend on breast screening to detect cancer,” said the bill’s co-author Rep. Lewis Moore (R), Arcadia. “This new measure will give more Oklahoma women the chance to live their lives cancer-free.”
Simpson worked for 30 years as a laboratory technician at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, searching for effective ways to control fats that play a major role in heart disease and stroke.
Although she underwent yearly mammograms, Simpson’s dense breast tissue hid her cancer until doctors discovered it at stage 4, when it was too advanced to respond to treatment. At the end of her life, she wrote a letter to Pugh and Moore that served as the catalyst for the new legislation.
“Nancy dedicated her career to helping make discoveries to benefit people she would never know,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Even in the fight for her own life, she did what she could to ensure that future generations of women could take control of their own breast health and live longer.”
Outside of the lab, Simpson had a passion for golf, traveling, the arts and her family. Her husband, John, and their daughters, Elyzabeth and Melissa, attended the signing ceremony, along with a group of Simpson’s friends and OMRF coworkers.
“We are so grateful to Sen. Pugh and his staff for what they’ve done in Nancy’s memory,” said John Simpson. “Nancy was a caring, empathetic person. She would love knowing that Nancy’s Law will save lives.”
“This law is a major step for women’s health in Oklahoma,” said Stitt. “It ensures that all women can take advantage of advances in breast cancer detection and treatment that can spell the difference between life and death.”
Nancy’s Law will take effect Nov. 1.