This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST (voice-over): Five years ago, Maeve Rice had the same pressures of any other working mother trying to juggle her career and family. Then one day she was stunned with the news that she might have breast cancer.
MAEVE RICE, BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR: It was very hard. I mean, I have little girls. My oldest was — just turned 8. My youngest was 6. So that's what you think about.
HANNITY: Instantly she went from wife and mother to, quote, "patient."
RICE: I went to Foster Hospital on a Thursday. The following afternoon I received a call that, in fact, the biopsy came back and I had breast cancer and that it was an aggressive breast cancer.
So — that I needed to take care of it right away. So I immediately hung up the phone, called Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I spoke to a wonderful woman and said, "I have cancer. I don't know what to do. I have little girls." And she set me up with Dr. Golsham who's a breast oncology surgeon.
I had the biopsy on Thursday. I had the results on Friday. And on Tuesday, I was meeting with Dr. Golsham.
DR. MEHRA GOLSHAM, DIRECTOR OF BREAST SURGERY: We made it a policy that we want to see, you know, women with the diagnosis within five business days. Even that sometimes is too long for the woman. And whenever someone comes in with breast cancer, you know, the diagnosis is absolutely overwhelming. For the person, for their significant other, for their children.
RICE: I was somewhat prepared, but you know, you just think about your children. I had a job to do, which was to take care of them and get better. So I was, like, kind of like I guess like a warrior.
HANNITY: And she needed to be. Maeve's condition was serious.
DR. KAREN ANDERSON, DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE: Maeve presented with a what's called a multi centric breast cancer. So she has an invasive breast cancer that was in several areas.
GOLSHAM: When we looked at the pictures on the MRI, there was more than actually one spot of cancer.
HANNITY: Dr. Golsham immediately operated and Maeve began a long intensive battle that would last for years.
RICE: The people at Dana-Farber were excellent. They gave us a lot of support. My doctors were wonderful with the children. They came with me to a lot of appointments. My family was incredible. My friends were incredible. The neighbors, the community was great. So with all that support, I was really fortunate to be able to make it through the surgery, make it through the long treatment I had. I had treatment for about a year and a half.
HANNITY: And she was lucky. Right around this time a new drug had become available called Herceptin.
ANDERSON: What we know about Herceptin is that the women with this type of breast cancer that it reduces the risk of recurrence by about half. And that has changed how we treat this type of breast cancer.
RICE: While it was a curse to get the breast cancer, there was sort of the silver lining of knowing that they had this wonder drug that was going to make a real difference in terms of preventing the reoccurrence.
HANNITY: But at the same time, a public battle over the use of Herceptin was breaking out in the United Kingdom.
RICE: I was excited to get it. And for all that had access to the drug, it is an expensive drug. And while I was undergoing treatment, I was receiving all kinds of e-mails about women that were living in the U.K. who had the same kind of breast cancer I have but weren't able to access the drug because of the drug cost and that their insurance wasn't taking care of it, wasn't allowing them to receive that treatment which was life-saving for them.
GOLSHAM: The survival benefit of reducing the chances of this cancer coming back significantly by, you know, over 50 percent is a pretty amazing thing. And yes, it is an expensive drug but it's a drug that's actually been proven.
HANNITY: But the United Kingdom is home to the NHS, the world's largest publicly funded health service. And as Maeve was starting her Herceptin treatment, well, British women were fighting to get the government to pay for the drug.
Anne Marie Rogers became the public face of that fight. She sued the NHS after being diagnosed with the same kind of breast cancer as Maeve and being denied Herceptin treatment. So Ann Marie took her fight to court and raised over $8,000 to buy the drug herself.
As the case dragged on breast cancer patients who badly needed the drug would show up at court in solidarity. Eventually, Anne Marie prevailed, but sadly she passed away last year.
Thousands of women now benefit from the battle that Anne Marie waged. But critics still say the government-run NHS system is flawed.
DR. KAROL SIKORA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF CANCERPARTNERSUK: Can't choose your doctor, can't choose your specialist in many cases. You can't choose where you go to. It rations. It tells me — the cancer specialists — which drugs I can use and which drugs I can't.
HANNITY: Five years later, Maeve is now doing well.
ANDERSON: Right now she has no evidence that there is any cancer any place. And she's doing very well and she actually has a very good long- term prognosis. Unfortunately, as she knows, I don't — never get to tell whether or not she is cured.
HANNITY: But she worries about what could be coming down the line if the entire U.S. health care system is overhauled with the government-run system.
RICE: What's amazing is that I was able to get some of the best doctors in the world with a phone call. And no wait. And the fact that I could call Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on a Friday afternoon and be there on a Tuesday with an appointment, and two weeks later be in surgery with two physicians. It was amazing to me. And it gave me a lot of hope.
GOLSHAM: One of the major benefits is to come to a cancer center like this where we do offer things that a lot of places in the country and around the world do not have. And most of the standards in cancer therapy comes from the United States especially for breast cancer.
RICE: When you see and hear stories about people in other countries that have different health care systems that aren't able to get treatment they need or have to wait for a long period of time to get treatment, or aren't able to get drugs that are necessary for their health, and their recovery from whatever it is they're suffering from, that's concerning.
And I would be very, very concerned that something like that could happen with the health care system changing in the United States. I'm concerned about government stepping in and telling me and telling my family what we can do for treatment, who we can see for treatment, what access we have.
I'd like to see them fix the things that aren't working before they revamp the system where most Americans are happy. I don't believe that there's another country that offers a better health care system than what we have. And I was fortunate to be here.
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