It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, friends, and time to make sure YOU have had or scheduled your annual mammogram.
Really, I’m serious about this. And I know you think you know all of this already, and you might. But, we can all use a refresher sometimes, yes?
Do you know that 1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the US?
That there will be an estimated 300,000 new cases of breast cancer in 2014?
That nearly 2,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014?
And, sadly, 40,000 women will die of breast cancer this year?
Trust me, I know mammograms are just no fun. Because my mother died of breast cancer at 53, I have been getting mammograms since I was 20 years old. That’s a lot of squeezing, stretching and smushing over the past 28 years!
Once, my girls actually tried to get up and run from the mammography waiting room when they realized where we were. They made it all the way out to the parking lot before I noticed they were on the run.
Sometimes, as the technician is handling my lady friends like she’s man-wrestling a hangry alligator with freezing cold torture hands, I fully expect her to hoist her foot onto my stomach for counter-weight as she pulls my poor darling into the next zipcode and loops back around (twice) through the mammo-machine plate.
“Hold your breath!” she says.
Thanks, I hadn’t realized there was another option.
“We’re almost done!” she titters (that was a joke, in case it you missed it).
I roll my eyes downward toward my once feisty girl, as she lays dejected, so flattened she could be rolled up into an old time proclamation, that when dramatically unfurled from both ends would shout out to her townfolk, “Are you KIDDING ME??!!” or that might spring noisily back to life like when my kids pull their window shades too far past their stretch limit.
“Tell that to Ms. Flat-Like-A-Pancake who you’ve got in your vice grip down there” I say.
We are, apparently, NOT “almost done.”
“That’s my kidney,” I protest. And she laughs as she gathers up Right Side Lady, seemingly from the base of my spine. I am not laughing. In fact, I have closed my eyes, and am afraid to open them because I am certain she has twisted and stretched my beloved snuggle pup into a party balloon weiner dog with a cute little tail that sticks up.
But, then it’s over for another year, and although somewhat deflated (temporarily), I am happy to know that me and my girls are healthy. It’s uncomfortable, yes, but worth it.
The fabulous Sabrina Mosseau, one of my favorite and ‘breast friends,’ is deeply committed to saving women’s lives in our region. She (appropriately) carries the most lengthy and important title I’ve ever seen: “Administrative Director Cancer Services, Acute Care Troy, Samaritan Hospital Cancer Treatment Center, Samaritan Hospital Women’s Health Center- A Breast Center of Excellence.”
Sabrina says, “The reality is that breast cancer caught early is treatable, and curable. Don’t put this off, friends, early detection through mammography may stretch your assets in ways you didn’t think possible, but it could save your life!”
“Getting a mammogram IS both funny and scary,” says Sabrina. “Mammograms ARE scary! Why? Not because they are uncomfortable, but because we are always afraid that we might be that one in eight women who ends up with breast cancer. Getting your mammo honors every woman out there living with breast cancer, and blesses the memory of every woman who has died from it. It’s how you can show that you care enough about yourself, and about those amazing women and their struggles by making sure no one else has to go through a late diagnosis.”
SO, here’s an idea! Let’s start making a date of our mammograms, schedule them with friends and go for coffee after (NOT before), or chocolate, or wine. Or chocolate and wine. Or just wine. This year, I went to my good friend’s mammogram with her, and we had a great time, giggling and chatting, and sharing the less comfy parts of staying well.
Sabrina shares that she has had “Mammos and Mimosas” with her friends. “We all sign up for an early slot, crack each other up in the waiting room and then head out to a ‘breast brunch’ with our girlies firmly back in our push up bras.”
Sabrina offers the following: For women who want mammograms using the most up to date technology, tomosynthesis mammography and 3D Elastography (Really?!) Ultrasound, call Sabrina’s Center at 518.271.3288. Cancer Services Program of Albany and Rensselaer Counties offer screening for women who are uninsured, or under-insured with high co-pays. Please call 518.525.8680.
So, no excuses, women! Call today and take your friend (or your grammy) for her mammy. Hell, make it a lunch date (‘mammy and a sammy’) and stay healthy, strong and living your long, long life to the fullest!
Deb and I want to hear from you, here and in the collective social media channels of the extended Capital Region Women@Work community:
Join the LinkedIn Group: Capital Region Women@Work
This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.