|Art by Anna Alvarado|
This is the thing, when it comes to preventive care, so many women are so busy taking care of other people that they "forget" to take care of themselves. Do you know anyone like that? If so, I hope this post serves as a reminder to give this special woman a call. Help a that sweet woman in your life take care of herself.
No woman has to die of breast cancer today but too many still do. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 227,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year, about 40,000 die. Breast cancer is, after lung, the most common form of cancer and the second leading case of death among women. Chances of a woman getting breast cancer in their lifetime is 1 in 8! Death from breast cancer is preventable but not when it's caught in later stages. Latinas and African American women die at higher rates because it gets detected at later stages. Why not go get checked, like today, or soon? I got mine early this year. When are you getting yours?
No health insurance? No worries! And no excuses! Punch in 'free mammograms" on your search engine and you'll be directed to a free or lost cost service in your area. I found a list of centers in New York City when I did a quick search.
Fears? Anxieties? I get it. Many women experience doctor phobia. And I can see why.Very few doctors look like Dr Oz or are as disarmingly charming. But, no matter what your doctor looks like it's time to get that referral and get checked out. Work through your fears with a friend and ask for help if you need to go with someone. You are worth it. Believe it.
Many women have the "knowing phobia" -- they are too scared to know, to be confronted with the possibility of having "something," so they forgo getting checked out until the pain is too much to handle. Other women are ashamed to be touched by a stranger - even if this stranger is a medical professional. Other women have such low self esteem that they don't believe that they deserve good medical care. Are you one of these women? Do you know anyone that fits into these categories?
Fear of pain. Well, yes, they are uncomfortable but mammograms don't hurt? If you're lucky, you get a compassionate female technician who will make it as quick and comfy as possible. Until new technology is developed, we will have to bear a little discomfort. Which is why I am a champion of girls in science programs. Imagine a machine that squeezed testicles for prostate screenings? No, because men are in the medical field and two of them created the mammography machine. Still, until there is a better way, got get your girls compressed for a few seconds.
My pledge this Breast Cancer Awareness Month: each time I talk to a female friend, I will check in with them to see if they've had their annual mammogram. And, offer them company if they need a little courage. I hope each of you reading this post will too!
PS the artwork is by the great artist, Anna Alvarado, who created this for a breast cancer fundraising calendar.