Christina Applegate Foundation Gives Direct Financial Aid for Breast MRI
In 2009, the year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 after a screening Breast MRI test, actress Christina Applegate founded Right Action for Women (www.rightactionforwomen.org), a foundation dedicated to educating women about what it means to be at “high risk” for breast cancer.
In addition to education, the foundation offers financial assistance for women 45 years old and younger, with a family history of breast cancer or with a positive BRCA gene test, to gain access to Breast MRI, regardless of insurance status. Insurance companies often deny coverage for Breast MRI exams for high risk women, even when the test is clearly indicated and the woman’s doctor orders it. Many women cannot afford to pay for the cost of a breast MRI out -of-pocket, and must forgo the test. Ms. Applegate’s foundation is trying to bridge that gap.
Christina Applegate has been very open and honest with the public about her diagnosis of breast cancer at such a young age, and about her decision to undergo bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Due to her family history of breast cancer in her mother, she started having yearly mammograms at the age of 30. Because her breast tissue was dense, the mammogram was limited in terms of its ability to see a potential cancer. Fortunately, her doctor was on top of this, and recommended that she have a breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for more effective and complete screening, given her high-risk status.
On her first MRI, a suspicious area was seen in her left breast. (The mammogram was negative.) The area was biopsied, and breast cancer was found. Because it was found early and it was small, the first recommendation was that she have a lumpectomy (small lump of tissue removed) and six weeks of radiation treatment. No chemotherapy would be needed. However, because she was only 36 years old when she was diagnosed, and because of her family history, her doctor suspected that she might have a BRCA gene mutation (the “breast cancer gene”). The special blood test was sent off, and it came back as positive for the BRCA-1 gene. This meant that Christina faced a 60% risk of developing additional breast cancer in her lifetime (compare this to the average lifetime risk of 12%).
Taking these sobering facts into account, Christina Applegate decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) with cosmetic reconstructive surgery in 2008. She’s met this obviously difficult decision with irony, and a positive outlook, while admitting sadness. In several media accounts, she notes that on the bright side, she’ll never have to wear a bra again.
She has stated on many occasions that she’s convinced her doctor saved her life by sending her for that MRI. Her mission is now to make access to this potentially life-saving test available to all of the women who need it.
If you or someone you know could benefit from financial assistance for a necessary breast MRI, call Patient Services Incorporated at 1-800-366-7741 to apply.
Christina Applegate gave birth to her first child, Sadie Grace, in January 2011, and her new series, Up All Night, premiered on NBC last month. Best of luck, Christina! You deserve good things, and I’m rooting for you.