Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Nancy M. Cappello

The team at Dilon is heartbroken over the passing of Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D. and would like to extend sincere condolences to her family, especially her husband Joseph Cappello, friends, colleagues, and supporters. Nancy was a friend of Dune, and the founder of “Are You Dense,” a non-profit organization that has changed the breast cancer care landscape not only in the US, but abroad as she championed legislation requiring that women be informed of their breast density and the risks and screening challenges dense breast tissue brings including potential for missed or delayed detection and advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis. Earlier detection has been shown to reduce advanced disease and mortality.

Cappello’s journey began in 2004 when she was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer, just weeks after her annual mammogram, for the 12th year in a row, revealed normal breast tissue. Her doctor told her the cancer was missed on her mammogram because she had dense fibroglandular breast tissue, something she had never heard of before. Dense breast tissue can mask cancers on a traditional mammogram. At the same time, women with extremely dense breast tissue are five times more likely to have breast cancer compared to women with fatty breasts.

After her breast cancer treatment of intense chemotherapy and radiation was completed, she founded “Are you Dense” to demand legislation in her home state of Connecticut, making it mandatory for providers to inform women about their breast density. After achieving that goal, she expanded her reach, and since 2009, thirty-six states and numerous countries have passed legislation requiring patients with dense breasts who have received a mammogram be notified about their breast density and its potential implications. Her tireless efforts have inspired women across the country to join her fight. In Dune’s home state of Georgia, dense breast legislation does not exist. Dune introduced Nancy and her mission to Margie Singleton, a Georgia woman who unfortunately had a very similar breast cancer diagnosis experience. Margie, and her non-profit organization, “Margie Army” – is currently leading the way to ensure that Georgia becomes the 37th state to pass this important legislation.

Early this year we, along with Nancy, Margie and her army, met with Governor Deal and several members of the Georgia House as part of the mission to introduce Margie’s Law.

Earlier this year, Nancy was diagnosed with secondary myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a bone marrow cancer which was a complication of her prior cancer treatments. Fighting this new disease did not keep her from supporting the dense breast legislation efforts. Just a few weeks ago while she was home sick, she joined the “Are You Dense Gala” via FaceTime, making everyone there feel welcome and important. Her incredible passion, charisma, intellect and loving soul continued to focus on doing good for others right up to her passing.

At Dune, we will continue to support Nancy’s legacy by helping others like Margie Singleton, until every woman in the US is routinely informed of their breast density when receiving a mammogram.

Thank you Nancy, for the incredible work you’ve done for women all over the country – you’re an inspiration to us all!

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