Three years ago, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Teresa Montant decided to make it her mission to inform other women about the problem that dense breast tissue causes in the use of mammograms for cancer detection.
The Shelter Island woman also resolved to tell women that ultrasound testing would be a good precaution.
She died in October at the age of 54, but her efforts have led to an annual ritual aimed at increasing awareness of the disease — the Real Men Wear Pink photograph.
Usually done the week after Labor Day weekend, when town beaches close and the summer crowds are gone, scores of men on Shelter Island gather on Crescent Beach, all wearing something pink, and pose for a group picture.
When they meet Saturday at 5 p.m., Townsend Montant — her husband — expects about 100 men to show up, and another 100 men and women to gather around to watch them.
Copies of the photo are distributed on Shelter Island, but rarely go anywhere else. Still, the first picture — taken three years ago — hangs in the Breast Health Center of Southampton Hospital.
“It’s really just to raise awareness,” Montant said. “When my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, they never told her about dense breast tissue.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law this year requiring doctors to inform women whose mammograms show dense breast tissue about cancer risks. Under the new law, women with dense tissue will be told that while this is not abnormal, it can make detecting breast cancers more difficult and may be associated with an increased risk of cancer.
The law also requires that mammography reports advise women with dense breast tissue to discuss the possibility of getting additional screening, such as an ultrasound exam.