Another anniversary has come and gone, I can’t believe it was 5 years ago. July 2, 2012, I checked into Cooper University Hospital to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. The surgery was an easy decision for me, multiple prior biopsies which grew more suspicious over the years and a mother who died of Breast cancer. Five years later, I have NEVER second guessed my decision. I have spoken freely with anyone who is interested. For a long time everyone I knew was fully aware of my story.
Since my surgery 2 friends have been diagnosed with beast cancer, one in remission and the other still deep in the fight. A third friend is just at the beginning of “something strange in the imagining” stage, prayers that it is nothing. What frustrates me are the friends who just do not find it important to get their yearly mammograms. All three of the women I just mention were made aware of their situations via routine screenings. I am not here to preach, maybe I should, what I would do is encourage everyone to be screened regularly.
This years anniversary has me a bit more on edge. I now have a daughter who is a few short weeks from 13 years old and puberty is among us. As she fills out, a fear in me grows. Aside from my own risk factors, my daughters have a higher risk than I did having 2 grandmothers with breast cancer, women who sadly my girls never had the opportunity to meet. I wish I could do something to change those factors for my girls but there are some things Mom can not fix. What I can do is support my children as we face the future head on.
It is once again October and the Pink is flying. Breast cancer awareness visually pushed into the forefront for all. Put aside the millions being made by the CEO’s running the charities or those behind the merchandising of all of the apparel and take it for what it should be, a moment to step back and recognize that awareness, testing and early detection really does save lives. So instead of a long-winded post rehashing my own story or one looking at so many strong women who have fought or are currently fighting this awful disease, I ask a simple question, when is the last time you had your mammogram?
If you would like to buy a pretty pink sweatshirt, pen, baseball bat or energy drink with the special label go right ahead but I ask you to go one step further. If you yourself are due to see your doctor and have your scans get off your butt and make the call and schedule your appointment. Today and all month-long as you interact with those women closest to you, remind them to do the same.
CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EARLY BREAST CANCER DETECTION
I was standing amongst a group of women the other day listening to the conversation. I am not fully sure how, but the topic of breast cancer came up. Three of the four of us standing there lost our mothers to the disease. As I looked around another woman close by recently lost a sister. It is not hard to find someone who’s life has not been affected by breast cancer, it seems in my travels it is nearly impossible.
According to recent statistics, about 1 in 8 US woman will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. As you stand in a room look around, count the woman in the room. Who will it be? With numbers like that what still astonishes me are those who do not have a sense of urgency to be checked. Women who find it to be too much of an annoyance to have the yearly mammogram done. For many of us the mammogram was useless. I used to also have yearly breast ultrasounds. If you are not fortunate enough to have a doctor who will write the scripts together you have to wait for the alarming phone call letting you know the mammo was inconclusive or even worse saw something abnormal. It is probably nothing they say but back to the radiologists for the ultrasound, very time-consuming. Most of my lumps never showed up on mammograms. Many times I heard it was probably nothing. Several of those ended up in biopsy until the day when it was the beginnings of something.
I was able to react, to take control of my situation because I was vigilant with my screenings. I hated it of course but a necessary thing. I had my first Mammogram at 22 years old and my first biopsy soon after. Mammograms, Ultrasounds surgeries and MRI’s made it clear what my future would hold. Because of screenings I was able to seek out advice, talk to experts and make the decision to have a preventative mastectomy before ever having to face any type of cancer battle, thank god!
Complain, whine, scream if you must but make your appointments and have the screening done! Somethings are just too important to wait!