Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Keeping abreast of things



Okay, so it’s a corny title. But after the events of yesterday I thought it was a good idea to veer away from writing for a moment and hop up on my soapbox to talk about breast self-examination (BSE) and mammograms.

I had my annual mammogram two weeks ago and normally I would have received the results within a week. But between the doctor’s son graduating from high school and the Memorial Day holiday, I got the results yesterday. And instead of the little card reading “No problems. See ya next year!” I got a phone call asking me to come in for an ultrasound. Seems they spotted what the doctor thought was just a fluid-filled cyst and they need to check it further.

I had this happen five years ago and had to wait a week to get in for the ultrasound. It was a LONG week. Luckily, they had an opening yesterday afternoon and I grabbed it.

They’d marked the old cyst on my charts and the doctor had recommended “No Action” since it was harmless and there was no reason to remove it.

This turned out to be another of the same. Whew!

Despite doing BSE, I can’t feel these things. So I depend on my annual mammogram to bring them to light.

Every one of you should be doing BSE monthly. If you can’t remember, mark it on your calendar or pick a date that’s regular – like the first day of your period or the first day of the month. Or you can Google “BSE email reminder” and get several hits for sites that will send you an email to remind you. That's what I do.

As for mammograms, different organizations have different recommendations for when and how often, but most recommend a baseline mammogram at age 40 and then repeat mammography at regular intervals for the rest of your life. Ask your physician and check with your health insurance provider to see what they recommend.

A mammogram is awkward and a bit embarrassing and depending on the sensitivity of your breast tissue, it might even be painful. But don’t let the awkwardness, embarrassment or possibility of a little bit of pain keep you from having this important test. Breast cancer is very curable when caught early and a mammogram is quite often the way that such cancers are caught early enough for successful intervention.

You can learn about breast cancer, BSE, risk factors and prevention, and a whole lot more at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation website.

I’ll hop down off this soapbox now. I had way too much excitement yesterday along with a bit of angsting and obsessing even though the results were good.

Have you performed BSE lately? If you’re old enough, have you had your mammogram? Are your mothers, sisters, best friends keeping abreast of their own health? If not, I'm giving you a nudge and you can nudge them.


P.S. Happy birthday today to my wonderful daughter-in-law who is expecting Grandbaby2Be on June 16 but found out today they're going to induce her next week.

12 comments:

Sabrah said...

Congratulations on getting your mammogram (or, as I call it,"having your cup turned into a saucer")and for your "all clear" results. I do the Breast Self Examination fairly often, at least once per week while I'm in the bathtub. After I passed 55, my doctor said I could start having my mammogram every other year, so the BSE became even more important. I have a tee shirt that says, "Smart Women Read Romance." I think I'll add a line that says, "And get mammograms."

Can't wait to hear about the long awaited grandchild. Hope you'll have pictures at the next HOD meeting.

Problem Child said...

DG volunteers to do mine...

PC

Smarty Pants said...

Grandbaby2Be is coming early! Are they ready? Not sure you ever are. Congrats. I will be on my cruise, but will see how much it is to get online to check in.

I always feel like I'm doing the BSE wrong, like I don't know what I'm feeling for or whatever. Just copping a feel on myself. I guess its good that I don't notice anything. Probably the point, really...

SP

Kathy said...

PC and SP, you guys crack me up!

I'm so thankful that you got the clean bill of health, Playground Monitor! I had the same scare two years ago. I got the 'call', no, not the one I've always dreamed of, the one to say that I had to come back in. When I got there they did another mamogram, a sonogram and some other kind of test that I can't remember the name of. I had to sit and wait between each test, the whole time wondering what the heck was going on. Never found out what they were looking for, only that I was okay. (Since my Aunt had a rare form of breast cancer, I've been having mamograms since I turned 36. And I'm supposed to get them every year.) I'm a little over due now but I'm scheduled to have my breasts turned into pancakes in June.

Facing a scare like this really makes you think about the fragility of life. That's why we should ride that horse to get to the mountain and climb that mountain to reach our goal. Life doesn't wait for us, why should we wait to get started living it?

Have fun on your cruise, SP! Enjoy the homeland, PC! And loads of joy sent your way, Playground Monitor as you await the birth of your Grandchild!

KB

Problem Child said...

Oh, and don't forget that you can help fund mammograms for low-income women at www.thebreastcancersite.com.

One click a day helps other women and costs you nothing.

While you're there, you can click and help other worthy causes.

PC

Playground Monitor said...

You can download cards that show proper BSE procedure from the Susan G. Komen site. So download them for yourself SP and PC can download them for DG. Cute!

Thanks for mentioning the site that funds free mammograms.

Kathy, glad your "call" turned out all right too. It sure makes your blood pressure rise a few thousand points.

And yep, Grandbaby2Be will be here next week sometime. You're never ready. My youngest is 23 and I'm still not ready. *g*

Dixie Belle said...

I'm just out visiting around and stopped by your website, which is really cute. I debated about leaving a blog post because the subject is a delicate one for me.

But I did want to say you can have a negative mammogram, no lumps and still have some types of breast cancer, which was my case. I had Paget's, which is a rare type of breast cancer that men and women can have. It starts out as a little rash which is sometimes mis-diagnosed and if treated with steroids, it will improve in appearance while advancing.

In fact, I diagnosed myself after reading about Paget's in the Merck Manual. However, the doctors I went to dismissed that.

I've worked in the medical field for years. I know how they think when a patient comes in and tells them what is wrong with them.
So I had exams, a stat mammogram, all neg. Then cyto slides which were inclusive, even from a lab in Memphis. Finally the surgeon thinks it is really just inflammation of the nipple but wants to do a biopsy to be sure. By this time, I'm convinced I was wrong. The pathologist here sends the biopsy slides to a lab in Los Angeles. The LA lab finally makes the diagnosis of Paget's Disease. I was right all along!

That was over two years ago and I'm doing good now after surgery. Surgery was all that was required in the way of treatment. I was offered the option of taking Tamoxfin as a preventive but declined due to the possible severe side effects, especially blood clots. Then, later, I read online research showed Tamoxfin had little/no benefit to patients like me.

If you or a friend are ever faced with breast cancer and you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

KB, you are right. Life doesn't wait for you. A woman, who'd had BC, told a friend of mine how much she admired me for getting on with my life as fast as I did. I wrote and sold a short story about 6 weeks after my surgery along with going back to work. I recall sadly she said after her diagnosis/surgery, she had lain down for two years and waited to die.

Angel said...

Good advice all around! My mother's mother died of breast cancer, though it didn't help that she was a lifelong smoker.

Now I watch my mother go through the emotional angst of her mammogram every year. She has very fibrous breast tissue, so she often gets 'the call.' Then she gets to do more tests, waiting, and even more tests. It is hard on her each time.

Problem Child said...

Dixie Belle--I think you make a good point. We're trained to believe that doctors are always right, but it's important to remember that it's YOUR body and you know it better than others. Never let something that concerns you drop just becuase you're told "it's nothing."

Glad to hear your story has a happy ending.

PC

Playground Monitor said...

So glad you dropped by Dixie Belle and thanks for sharing your experience with us. Like PC said, we have to stay in touch with our own bodies and we know them best.

Hope you'll drop back by again. I notice you're a next-door neighbor in Mississippi.

PM

blueberri said...

Having many family members who have had breast cancer, two died from it, I applaud the energy you put into educating and promoting breast checks!

I'm happy your testing came out okay! WOOHOO!

I also wanted to tell the Playground how much I enjoy the site and the author interviews!

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