I’d like to send a message to doctors & to ladies. Doctors: Stop telling women they don’t need a mammogram. Just stop. Stop saying it’s not needed until 40 or 50 years old. Just stop. I was 41. Two of my friends were also 41. If I hadn’t had a baseline done years prior, they might have dismissed the findings. They might have told me to wait and see if it changed. I heard someone tell the story about their doctor who told them they should just “wait and see” if things changed in 6 months. My cancer grew from nothing to stage 1 in 12 months. I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait until it progressed to stage 2 or 3 or 4.
My friend told me her Doctor said she didn’t need a mammogram even though it was covered by insurance. Thankfully, she didn’t take “no” for an answer. She at least has a baseline to compare others to. Hopefully she never needs it, but it’s there and could possibly save her life.
Ladies, stop. Stop making excuses.
- You’re busy. I get it. We are all busy.
- You’re scared of having a mammogram. Being told you have cancer is scary. Telling your kids that their mom has cancer is scary.
- It hurts. Guess what? Having surgery hurts. It hurts longer than the 45 seconds of having your boob squished for a mammogram. Catching it early makes the treatment less invasive.
My mother-in-law had breast cancer shortly after we were married (more than 20 years ago.) A few years ago, she stopped going in for regular check ups. She stopped putting herself first. We aren’t sure why, and now we won’t get the chance to ask her. She was 70. She didn’t make it to her 71st birthday. She won’t see her grandkids graduate high school or get married. Last Friday we lit a luminaria bag in her memory at our Relay for Life event.
Our Relay for Life is one of the largest in MN. I was co-captain last year and team captain this year. We raise funds all year and our Relay night is 8 hrs long. We don’t go through the night anymore… not enough people stayed that long. I think that’s common for several Relay events. People have other commitments during their short summer. It is a powerful, emotional night. People of all ages wearing purple “survivor” t-shirts walk the survivor lap. I thought for a moment “maybe I shouldn’t go or be involved…. maybe it’s not a big deal.” And then I thought of my mother-in-law, my aunt, my friend’s wife… and I realized it’s a big deal.
My husband took a picture of the survivor on the back of my shirt. At first I thought it was silly, but it’s one of my favorite pictures of the night. My good friend decorated a bag for me with a cat that looks like ours and some chickens in clothes… perfect. It gets to be in honor of me and not in memory.
In general, please stop thinking that being survivor is not a big deal. I have a friend from a recent retreat who is traveling all over the United States to try and find a cure, a solution… something to buy some more time. Life isn’t guaranteed. We don’t know our end date. Supporting the American Cancer Society helps to fund research, provide rooms or travel assistance or valet parking.
It’s a subject that gets me fired up. I am passionate about prevention. If one person gets checked because of this awareness, it’s worth it. Mammograms don’t only happen in October. You can get checked anytime.
Stop and watch a sunset. Stop and smell some flowers (they don’t have to be roses). Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you stop doubting, procrastinating or worrying and start living.