The Sooner The Better

Hey, it’s me again. I know the world is terribly troubled and noisy and you’ve a mile long list of things to do. But like other cancer clubbers I feel as if October, Cancer Awareness Month, has once again given me the green light to take off the breaks and plow forth with this pink awareness evangelism I’m about to spew. I remember these women before my diagnosis when I was blissfully ignorant. They were everywhere. On tv, on posters at bus stops, doctors’ offices, marching in the streets. They all seemed to have this smile I found incongruous with the cause that had them marching in the first place. Lock eyes with one of them and she might see right through you and know you haven’t scheduled that mammogram, have you

This blissful ignorance of which I refer were those years when I sauntered into the doctor and got the mammogram and went about life unencumbered, and the letter always showed up in my mailbox with the nothing to see here box checked. There was that one time when there was a call back but it turned out to be nothing. I always landed on my feet. Until I didn’t.

I recall during many a mammogram the tech often would remark about what dense breasts I had. She always seemed surprised at what my tissue presented on screen and there was almost this Little Red Riding Hood delivery with a, “My what DENSE TISSUE you have!” What’s a patient to do with that remark? Turns out, there is plenty you can do, beginning with talking to your doctor. These days much more is known about dense breast tissue. Doctors know dense breast tissue makes breast cancer screening more difficult and it increases the risk of breast cancer.

Mayo Clinic covers it well here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/mammogram/in-depth/dense-breast-tissue/art-20123968

So back to my agenda. We can all agree that mammograms don’t rise to the top of our list. We are busy, many of us with jobs and kids and partners and pets, all vying for our attention. Signing up to be flattened on a cold metal machine just doesn’t seem all that important. We are young and we are healthy, and it doesn’t run in our family, so we will do it when we do it. Also, we are scared. What if they find something?

Wait just one minute!

We think we can wait until our schedule opens up, until it dawns on us again, or when our doctor pesters us again next year to make the appointment. But you know what doesn’t wait? Cancer. Yep, that’s right. It likes to stay busy. It’s predictable that way. 

Those of us who’ve had teenagers in the house know what can happen. Parents schedule a night out or a short weekend away and then what? Suddenly there’s a party at your house, and not one you planned. The guest list keeps growing and things can easily get out of control. 

With mammograms and self-exams we can take the reins and ensure no party gets planned or if one does, we can throw ammo at it and create an undesirable environment should any visitors dare show up again. 

So let’s shut down a party before it even begins. Get it done. Get that mammogram and do your own self-exam. It’s a good habit to start and you can stay on top of things. One less thing to worry about. 

I’ve been visited by these partyers and I’d rather you not be. There is lots of clean up, lots of expense, worry, and none of it feels good. So let’s not get this party started at all. It’s your body, your house, and you can reinforce those locks and make a party at your place too difficult to bother with. 

It can be scary, I know, but do it anyway. Schedule it, feel yourself, and put it behind you, until the next month or year when it’s time to do it again. Make it routine. You don’t have to join a march or answer to anyone, like me, who may be bugging you about your breast health. But your body is counting on you to watch out for it, and I believe you can and should. 

So please, get to it. I love you. 

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