As adults there are routine things we must do. Simple annual or semi-annual responsibilities.
Routine things like changing our smoke detector batteries, replacing air filters in our home, oil changes on our cars; basic things which help the longevity of our investments.
As a woman, we have one more annual responsibility to care for our investment in our health – annual mammograms.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and yours truly being blessed with circling the planet one more year as a Breast Cancer Survivor it just all seems timely.
That being said I am not a doctor and am not here to offer medical advice by way of how frequently or when one should have said mammogram. That is a conversation between every woman and her doctor based on history, age and a few other factors. Yet it’s a conversation that absolutely needs to happen as we maintain our health as women annually.
While most insurance covers 100 percent of mammogram costs, there are also programs in place such as Every Woman Counts which offer free services for women without coverage.
But mammograms are not the only thing we should do as women to help ourselves with early detection. Self-exams are just as or more important (in my opinion) than an annual mammogram.
Case in point and I’ve probably shared this before, so forgive me. The biggest difference between the self-exam and the mammogram is the frequency. A self-exam can be done any day, any time, no appointment needed. Mammograms are annually and in case you missed it, cancer doesn’t care about timing and frequency.
Take myself as an example. Each and every one of my cases were detected by self-exam. My initial tumor was located so far back in the right breast that the diagnostic tech asked me how it was found. I shared I had found it; it woke me while sleeping which prompted investigation. The tech at the time informed me how fortunate I was, indicating due to the location it would not have been detected by traditional mammogram.
From that time in March of 2020 to present day, I had two separate recurrences and both were found my me.
Living as a Breast Cancer Survivor changes a person many ways. There are certain things I no longer take for granted. Living life fully has always been my thing, but walking this path sort of takes it to a next level.
Sweating the small stuff, living with drama now being pushed to the way side. Life is fragile, that’s for sure. Embracing the moment, living fully, all the things.
One final thought for those of you delaying on a test which could quite frankly save your life. Not all are this lucky. The invention of the mammogram is an annual insurance and a given chance at early detection. Not all cancer types are this fortunate, don’t squander that away.
Most importantly I offer this; there’s nothing fun about the cancer walk. Way too many of us have faced it in some capacity and while the lessons are good, great even, all the stuff in between – not so much.
So, make the call. Google your options and add yourself to the list of upkeep responsibilities. You are definitely worth the time and effort.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.