Tuesday, October 07, 2008

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It's been over two years since I said goodbye forever to one of my dearest friends who died from breast cancer. My sadness is compounded by knowing that even through she had a mammogram, the facility where she went did not properly read the results and recommended that "we watch" the lump. A year later, at another screening center at another facility, it was too late to halt the progress of the monster. Another friend, who is a ten year survivor, also was advised to "watch" the lump. She lost her right breast and underwent agonizing treatment, but is still here today to watch her beautiful grandchildren grow.

Please, women ... have your annual mammogram. If you are the least bit suspicious of the accuracy of the results, get a second opinion. If you discover changes in your breast, go get checked. Now. Those of us who love you, do not want to lose you.

Shortly after the passing of my friend, I went with another friend for her first mammogram in years. The visit to St. Vincent's Breast Health Center made such an impact that I began to jot down notes for what later became my first post in January 2006. As a result of early intervention my friend is still here and all clear.

I'm reprinting that original post to encourage women not to put off breast exams. And you family members ... go with your loved one and hold her purse.

Originally published Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mammogram

Men should have mammograms to understand the emotions of the community of women who sit in their little pink smocks in a cheery room waiting to have initial or follow-up X-rays or sonograms or more, or for the doctor to read the results and deliver the diagnosis.

Men would then understand the fear a woman faces whether it’s her first or tenth mammogram.

They should see the bravery of the woman struggling to hold back tears as she heads to the changing room after the devastating news that will forever change her life and perhaps end it far too early. It’s then her burden to share the news with her family and while facing her personal fears, try to soothe the emotions of her loved ones. She also sees the days stretch out before her in seemingly endless rounds of doctors, hospitals and treatments.

Men should share the elation of the woman who receives the “all clear” as the tension drains from her face to be replaced with relief and smiles. Men should witness the camaraderie as the other women offer congratulations for having “escaped” the dreaded disease for another year.

They should see the young mother of two small boys sit in the corner avoiding the eyes of the other women to not reveal her nervousness over the uncertainty of what to expect. Then the men should watch as an older woman, a grandmother, senses the fear of the younger woman and draws her into a casual conversation about wallpaper, then squeezes the younger woman’s hand as her name is called for “the test.”

Physically, mammograms are no big deal. They are uncomfortable and on occasion, a bit painful, but they can help detect the tiny beginnings of a monster.

Men should understand the importance of this annual ritual and that without the exams and early detection, many more of us would be lost. They should encourage and support their women to have the exams. Go with them and hold their purses and wait patiently in the family area for their return. Holding a purse for someone you love is much easier than saying “goodbye” forever.

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(In memory of my beautiful friend Harriette.)

© Copyright 2006 Suzzwords

4 comments:

  1. I had my mammogram this year and every other test too Susan...it was just one of those 'catch-up' on everything years...you know.

    But I know just what you are talking about in regards to your best friend....and I'm so sorry for your loss sweetie. I have my very best friend of 38 years who is going through breat cancer radiation treatments right now. She got tested right after me. They caught her cancer pretty early, but still, it's been a long and difficult time for her...and very stressful. She still has several more weeks of treatments and then will be taking chemo pills for five years. We can only hope and pray that this will all take care of it. And to think she would have never even gone if I hadn't urged her to go when I made my appointment for mine.....frightening.

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  2. Hi dear,
    I'm so sorry about your friend. We should all me undergoing tests, and the older one gets, the better o take it twice annually. I'd like to invite you to join us and share some of your experience at www.womenetcetera.com, a website for women who are 50+. Please do think on it.
    Thanks. Natasha

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  3. Amen to all of that Suzz, especially the "Men should" parts. BTW there is a convesion chart on my post now.

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  4. Sunnie3:01 PM

    Suzz, Thanx for the continued encouragement. I am 5 years cancer free. Getting the devistating news was beyond a shock, but having Dave with me was very comforting, we were able to share our mixed emotions together about the news. It's wonderful to have a considerate mate to lean on and understand.
    Again, thanx for your inspiring thoughts.
    Warm regards,
    Sunnie

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