Breast, Breast cancer, Breast cancer screening, Cancer, Health, Mammography, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
I had every intention of writing something lighthearted for this, my last daily post as part of BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo challenge. But my heart isn’t feeling all that light right now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about living daily life and writing, it’s this: I can’t fake it. This afternoon, a friend is accompanying me while I undergo a screening mammogram.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a screening mammogram is like needing to have your senior pictures retaken because they turned out so awful the first time. Earlier this month, I had my routine annual mammogram. And for the second year in a row, I received a call several days later informing me that the radiologist wanted a “do-over.” Something on the film of my right breast looked—what was the word I heard when the technician called me?—suspicious? Unusual? I can’t remember. I stopped listening clearly shortly after she identified herself on the phone. Panic, I suppose.
My adventures in good health and otherwise are long and complicated—far too complicated for a single post—so for now I’ll focus only on this new development. Last year, I was relieved when the films came back negative. This year, I’m hoping for the same result. I had no symptoms then, and I have none now, other than the usual annoyance of fibrocystic disease, which was diagnosed when I was in my twenties.
Regardless of today’s outcome, I’ve decided that I will share the experience on my blog. Why? Two reasons, mostly. First, because breast cancer is probably the top rung of the worry ladder for millions of women. Estimates for 2011 from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health predict that there will be 230,480 new cases of breast cancer among women; 2,140 among men. (Yes, men can get breast cancer, too.) Deaths this year are estimated at 39,520 for women, and 450 for men.
Second, I believe that it’s in your best interest to have useful and important information, so I’ll be telling more of my story in future posts. If telling my story prompts someone to get to the doctor for a long overdue visit, or to begin to take seriously the reminders to perform self-examinations each month, then that’s a good thing.
My own history is such that it necessitated regular mammograms at an age earlier than what is considered the norm, despite the fact that neither my mother nor her sister ever developed the disease. (I’m an only child, so as canaries in the mine go, I’m it.)
You would think I’d be used to all this rigmarole by now, but I’m not. I’m a bit apprehensive today, and that’s normal.
Here’s hoping my films will be normal, too.
And you out there. Yes, you. The one reading this and thinking, “You know, I guess I should call and schedule my appointment, but I’m just so busy right now…”
Guess what? You’ll always be busy. Don’t panic, but please make time for this; it’s important.
This has been a public service announcement from The Midlife Second Wife.