Hello, my old friend
How long’s it been, fifteen years?
I’ll see you next year
My baseline mammogram was done when I was 35. I just lost a close friend to breast cancer who was only a couple of years older than me. She found a lump during a self-exam and put off getting it checked by doctors for six months. By then it had metastasize into her lymph nodes. Even after very aggressive chemo-therapy and a bone marrow transplant, she lived less than a year longer. She left two kids and her newly wedded husband.
It pissed me off that she waited. If the cancer was caught earlier, she had a great chance of surviving. It also scared the bejeebus out of me. There is a long history of cancer in the women of my family, and I didn’t want to be added to that list.
In the 15 years since that first screening, I haven’t missed a date. One test revealed a lump in my right breast, something I missed in my self-exam. A biopsy showed it to be benign, but it re-enforced my decision to continue my annual mammos.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Wearing pink shirts or ribbon pins won’t do squat to help fight this heinous disease. You have to be proactive. Do monthly self-exams, have a mammogram, learn about your own body. Be familiar with what feels normal and when it doesn’t, don’t wait to get it checked out. It’s the not knowing that kills you.
Guys… don’t think you’re not affected. Men can get breast cancer. Self-exams are just as critical for you too.