Friday, October 16, 2009

Be Selfish!

from Emily Bryan . . .

Do something for yourself. No, I'm not going to suggest a long hot bubble bath or a 'girls night out.' Though those things are quite lovely, I'm talking about something that might save your life. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you scheduled your mammogram yet?

Ten years ago, my mom went in for a routine mammogram just before she and my dad were planning to escape the snow of Wyoming and head for a leisurely winter in Arizona. Dad was newly retired and they'd been looking forward to this trip for years. She almost blew the mammogram off.

I'm thankful every day that she didn't.

The mammogram revealed cancer, too small and too close to her ribs to be detected through a self-exam. So began the long, dark tunnel of treatment. She went through a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. She lost a good deal of her glorious hair, but my mom isn't the type to let a little thing like that depress her. She went out and bought 9 wigs! She went through that year with such grace and courage and good humor, my view of her was forever changed. She is much stronger and deeper than I ever dreamed.

And--thank you, God--she is still with us today. Cancer of any kind is beatable if it's caught soon enough.

Which brings me back to the mammogram. I know it's a pain--literally! I'm sure if a test for testicular cancer involved smashing scrotums like mammograms squish boobs, some man would devise a different test in short order. But this is what we have to work with. It's so easy to say we're too busy. Or that we feel fine and don't need a screening.

What you don't know, CAN hurt you.

It's all very well for people to march to "Save the Ta-ta's," or for the NFL to slap a bit of pink on their players. But if we don't step up and have the mammogram, all the "awareness" in the world does no good at all. If you're over 40, if there is cancer in your family history, if you have any palpable lumps, you NEED a mammogram.

As soon as I hit the "post" button, I'm going to the phone and scheduling mine. Please leave me a note and let me know you've scheduled or already had yours. It's ok to be selfish about some things. This is for YOU.


Heather D October 16, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

Awareness is a big thing, but you are right if women don't take the initiative and get the test done then the success rate of beating the cancer will not rise. I am still too young to have the doctors send me, and I don't know if I am suppose to get one done regardless. I know that if there was a history of it my family I would be going every year. My mom has to get one done every 6 mos because there is a lump that they are watching. I am very happy that your mother made it through.

My husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma last September. It was an emotional roller coaster while trying to figure out what was wrong with him... whether it was a cancer or something else and if it was cancer was is it Lung, Head neck, or lymphoma. We were very fortunate with his diagnosis. He didn't fall into the normal categories for this disease either. They say it normally attacks really young to age 25 and the second age group being 55+. My husband was only 41. I am happy to say that he had his last treatment in March and has had 4 clean PET scans. He is officially in remission.

EmilyBryan October 16, 2009 at 8:34 AM  

Heather, I'm so relieved about your husband! Thank God.

Carol L. October 16, 2009 at 8:59 AM  

This was a wonderful post. I have a cousin who is in remission from BC. She's doing fine these last 2 years.
Dealing with Cancer is a horrible thing. My daughter had bone cancer at 7 and a half and received treatment every day for 1 year. Thank God I still have my baby. :)She's now 22 .
Thank God for your Mom doing so well also Emily.It's a scary time. So you are right, I'm ashamed to say I have ignored getting one but will make appointment today. Thanks for the post and the scare. :)
Carol L.

Edie Ramer October 16, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

I've had a mastectomy. Like your mother, mine was close to my ribs and was only found in the mammogram. I'm happy that your mother made it.

And to the younger women reading this, breast cancer can happen to anyone. I was 45 when I found out I had it. The wife of my husband's co-worker just found out she has it. She's only 37, and the cancer is Stage 4. I'm praying for her.

EmilyBryan October 16, 2009 at 9:23 AM  

Carol--So many lives have been touched by this killer. I'm thrilled that your little girl survived! But the uncertainty you had to live with must have been one of the hardest roads to walk down.

No more scares now. Let's make a pact. My mammogram is 10/30 at 3 pm. When's yours?

Edie--Bless your courageous heart! I'm so glad the cancer was found in time. Will join your prayers for your friend.

Kathye October 16, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

Wonderful post, and I agree 100%. Breast cancer is rampant in my family. I lost my grandmother, mother and 2 aunts to BC. Six years ago my daughter was diagnosed with State 4 BC and was given 12 months to live. I was devestated to say the least. It was the first I'd heard of her illness. As aweful as that time was, I'm happy to report that my daughter is alive and doing well today. NEVER GIVE UP. Have your moments of sorrow and then start fighting with everything you have. My LeA is certainly a fighter and I thank God daily.

Heather D October 16, 2009 at 10:39 AM  

Edie, it is a scary thing! I just watched something on TV, I think it was the News with a special few minutes dedicated to one particular young woman. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her early twenties. She found a hard pebble like thing that the doctors kept writing off. It never went away. I can't remember exactly what happened in between that time and when she was finally diagnosed. She is in remission and is sharing her story now. I believe she is still in her mid 20s. This leads to one of my concerns. At what age do doctors want women to start having mammograms. Like I said earlier I believe I am still too young according to the rules, but I would not hesitate if the doctor said it was time.

EmilyBryan October 16, 2009 at 11:22 AM  

Kathye--Your daughter sounds like she has a wonderful fighting spirit. (Gets it from her mom, no doubt!) Glad she's doing well.

EmilyBryan October 16, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

Heather--Check with your primary care doctor. Mine wanted a baseline mammogram around 35 and then yearly starting at 40. But if there is cancer in your family history, you might need to start younger.

Gerri Russell October 16, 2009 at 8:50 PM  

Great reminder! Now that the book's done, I think I'll go schedule mine.

Patricia Barraclough October 16, 2009 at 10:02 PM  

My daughters just had their first mammograms this year. My oldest is waiting for a followup. A small spot near her rib.
Breast cancer has hit so many family members and friends. Either detection is better or it is more prevalent than ever. Either way, we need to be aware of our bodies and take good care of them.
Get a check-up buddy and make sure you don't miss any of them.

EmilyBryan October 17, 2009 at 7:46 AM  

Gerri--Does that mean you are, like me, in "writer's limbo" ~ that shadowy place between books? I can't wait to get started on the next one, but I can't until my characters show up!

EmilyBryan October 17, 2009 at 7:48 AM  

Pat--I hope your daughter gets a good report.

I think the incidence of BC is probably the same, but our early detection is much better. And the survival rate is much higher, at least in the US. I've heard the UK's rate has slipped in recent years.

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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