A new Oklahoma law which will take effect Nov. 1 is set to help women in the state become better informed on a condition which could make breast cancer difficult to detect.
The ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 443, known as Nancy’s Law, will now make it possible for women with dense breast tissue to become informed about their condition and receive additional testing if necessary.
Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, served as the principle author for Nancy’s Law in the Senate while Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, served as the House principal author. Under their legislation, “if a patient has dense breast tissue, she is to be notified about that condition and what additional testing she may undertake.” The same bill also requires results from mammograms and notifications to be emailed to patients if they request it.
SB 443, or Nancy’s Law, is named after Edmond woman Nancy Simpson, who died a few months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Before her diagnosis, Simpson had been “given a clean bill of health in all her mammograms done in previous years,” though those involved in her care never made her aware of her dense breast tissue, which can make breast cancer detection through mammograms difficult.
Nancy Simpson spent 30 years of her life working for Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. A large portion of her career focused on finding “effective ways to control fats that play a major role in heart disease and stroke.”
When she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, Nancy wrote to her local legislators. During her last days alive, she once again put the health of Oklahomans to the forefront with a goal of keeping other women alive for longer when it comes to breast cancer detection.
Pugh said even though Nancy knew her time was short, she still wanted to help take care of other Oklahoman women.
“She knew her time was short, but she wanted to help other women get the information she never received — information that can mean the difference between life and death,” Pugh said. “It was truly a privilege to be able to author and pass this law to help save lives and also honor Nancy’s life.”
Nancy’s daughter, Elyzabeth Simpson, said their family was shocked at her mother’s diagnosis even though she had completed her yearly mammograms and come out clean each time.
“We were all totally shocked that she could be diagnosed with stage four breast cancer when, you know, she’d gone every year and done the mammograms and everything the doctor had told her to do,” Elyzabeth Simpson said. “I hope that this law will prevent other women from going though this situation and other families from losing a loved one.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt said this law bolsters healthcare for women in Oklahoma.
“This law is a major step for women’s health in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “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.”
Husband to Nancy, John Simpson, said the passing of this bill leaves behind a legacy for his wife.
“Everyone in our family, all our friends, everyone we talk to, they all say the same thing — how wonderful,” John Simpson said. “What a legacy for what she had to go through. She was a beacon of light — the sweetest smile. Everyone loved her.”