Op-Ed: I am Woman, Hear Me Roar

By Stacey Pheffer Amato

Last year, I wrote about the historic bill I had introduced, A.8537 (2022). Not only was it signed into law, but we are now celebrating the one-year anniversary of giving women full autonomy over their post-mastectomy bodies. As it is October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I found it important to re-address this topic. In case you don’t remember, or for any new readers, this law ensures that insurance companies must pay for how a woman wants her chest to look after a mastectomy, with either a flat chest wall or full reconstructive surgery. The problem was that while many women pursue reconstructive surgeries after a full or partial mastectomy, some women pursue aesthetic flat closure, also known as “staying flat.” However, this option was not covered by insurance which meant doctors had to leave flabs or pockets of skin on women’s chest or force a woman to pay completely out of pocket for this surgery. That was unacceptable and last year, through my legislation, New York State became the first State in the country to require insurance companies to cover both procedures after a mastectomy: reconstructive surgery or aesthetic flat closure.

In addition to post-care, I also want to stress the importance of precautionary measures women can take to detect and hopefully prevent breast cancer. We know that early detection of this disease can lead to a much better outcome. As your State legislator, I have been working to protect women’s health for years. In 2019, I worked to pass legislation that determined that a mammogram is medically necessary which then expanded insurance coverage for annual mammograms for women 35 and older. About one in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the course of their lifetime, and sadly we all know someone who has been impacted by breast cancer. A mammogram is the most effective screening tool to detect breast cancer in most women and there should never be a concern over whether this necessary method is covered by insurance. I’m honored to know that for women in New York, there is no longer that type of barrier.

As a woman, I know how scary the statistics can be; but it doesn’t have to be. Let us be strong, educated, and empowered women, and take control of our health. On Friday, October 27, I encourage everyone who has a woman they love in their lives to join me at St. John’s Episcopal for ‘Mammoween.’ The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Floor Boardroom of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, 327 Beach 19th Street. This event will promote Breast Cancer Awareness by offering on-site mammograms and informative lectures by qualified health professionals – with refreshments and raffles too! Events like these can go such a long way in bettering the lives and safety of women.

If you are interested in receiving an on-site mammogram, you must call 718-869-7911 prior to the event. P.S. you do not have to receive a mammogram to attend. This will be an informative and fun event, and I hope to see you all there!

As we honor the brave women, and even men who have battled breast cancer, we also celebrate these developments in resources. With all we have achieved, I know our work for women is not done. I am committed to helping women and everyone to the best of my ability in my capacity as your Assemblywoman. As always, do not hesitate to contact my office by email at amatos@nyassembly.gov or by phone at 718-945-9550. As always, it is a pleasure to serve you and I look forward to representing you for many years to come.

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