Medical Advances Stopped Short By Insurance

Payson woman lobbies for Medicare coverage of breast cancer detection device

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When Diane Dodge found out she had two lumps in her left breast she didn't know it would lead her to Washington, D.C. to campaign for new technologies to be covered by Medicare.

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Diane Dodge joined 25 people in to Washington D.C. to campaign for new medical technologies to be covered by Medicare.

Dodge was one of 25 people who spoke to congressional leaders on June 22 as part of "The Value of Medical Technology: Profiles in progress you can see" lobbying effort organized by AdvaMed.

"We went to Capitol Hill and walked from door to door to visit Arizona representatives and personally invite them to the event that was going to show the new technology in medical research," Dodge said.

"We sat down with Rick Renzi and started to tell our stories and he said, ‘Stop right there,' and he called and had his assistant (in charge of) medical (issues) come in and take notes."

When Medicare covers a new procedure, other private insurance follows suit, Dodge said. That is why it is important that leaders who vote on Medicare are informed.

Dodge's companions on the tour included a 36-year-old woman who had laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery and has since lost 115 pounds.

"Now (insurance) doesn't have to cover diabetes, heart problems or hip replacement because her weight is under control," Dodge said.

Joey Carlson, 17, had dreams of becoming an Olympic speed skater before he was hit by a semi. The damage to his spinal cord left him a quadriplegic.

A baclofen infusion pump was implanted in his abdomen to treat erratic muscle contractions.

A neurologist suffering from Parkinson's disease underwent deep brain stimulation -- electrodes were implanted in his brain and a neurostimulator was implanted under the collarbone.

Now free from tremors, he can play baseball with his sons and practice medicine again.

Everybody knows somebody that new technology would help, Dodge said. "I hope hearing these stories will make a difference."

Dodge had a mammogram when she was 35.

"My sister-in-law died from having breast cancer that became spinal cancer and my mother had a tumor on her breast that she didn't notice, so I stay on it."

At 40, she decided to have another mammogram.

Dr. Belinda Barclay-White already had a copy of Dodge's first mammogram when her patient came into the office. She took new film, then another from a different angle.

"The doctor said, ‘I don't want to alarm you, but we are seeing a lump,'" Dodge said. "Then she showed me another lump in the baseline mammogram that no one had caught."

A biopsy was taken of one lesion with a core needle, which is standard procedure.

The other lesion was a hard mass. They took "15 ricochets off the other lesion," Dodge said.

It was 7 p.m. on a Friday night and Dodge faced the drive home from the Valley and a week of waiting for the lab results.

She was black and blue all down the side of her rib cage and so sore from the biopsies she couldn't lift her table to work as a self-employed massage therapist.

The good news was that the first lesion was benign. The bad news was the biopsy on the second lesion was unsuccessful.

"Doctor Barclay-White called me back and told me she had new FDA-approved equipment she was testing," Dodge said.

It was a similar procedure, Dodge said. The area was deadened and a needle about the size of the insert for a ballpoint pen was put into Dodge's breast. The breast biopsy device vacuums the lesion against the tip of the needle and cuts a sample into the probe.

"One shot, all done," Dodge said. "I went home and back to work on Monday. No big deal."

-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail

clavalley@payson.com.

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