Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mammogram or Bust!!

"Women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer, according to updated guidelines set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force."

So the "experts" have spoken...again. Up until now mammograms were routine for women 40 and over. Now a task force that consist of not one oncologist has changed the advisory and has recommended that women between 40 and 49 should consult with their individual doctor to see if it's in their best interest to have a mammogram. They say routine mammograms in younger women are responsible for early detection breast cancer in about 15% women in this age group. In my opinion(and I'm no expert) this means that without that early screening method, there's a chance that a good number of those same women would go undiagnosed until it was probably too late.

So now it's up to your doctor and unfortunately insurance companies to give the final yes. I am forever thankful that my original gyn did not DISMISS me because of my age. Statistically, Ovarian Cancer is a 55-60 year old Caucasian woman's disease. (I'm gearing up on for another blog post, where I will tackle that statistic head on.) And unlike breast cancer, there is no screening tool to detect Ovarian Cancer. It's up to you to educate your doctor and push him to dig deeper if you feel like something is wrong. I guess the same now goes for women 40-49 when it comes to breast cancer and BTW-they're not so sure self-exams are a good way to spend your time either...who are these people and how can we get them to collectively agree to stop talking and leave well enough alone?

When will we get it? We can save millions of dollars on treatment if we had more preventative measures in place. Stop trying to cut corners!! No matter what your political affiliation, you have to agree that without adequate health-care we are ALL at risk!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Three Birthdays beyond diagnosis...

Birthday's take on a whole new meaning when you experience something as devastating as a cancer diagnosis. I remember being so excited to reach 10, because that meant I was now in the double digit club. 13 meant that I was OFFICIALLY a Teenager. 16, well we all know that every girl dreams about their "sweet 16", although I didn't have a party, I still felt that along with 16 came some rite of passage. After-all, on all of the shows I grew up watching, from The Brady Bunch to The Cosby Show--16 was a milestone, it was the age you could date, get your ears pierced, wear make-up...you know those things that scream "I'm a woman now"....18 gave me the right to vote, 21 the right to have the drink of my choice, 25 meant I was half way to the big 3-0, and 30...well after that I kind of stopped counting.

My 36th birthday was on Thursday and I'm back to counting. Instead of counting towards the big 4-0, I'm counting away from the big C. I was diagnosed at the age of 33 with Ovarian Cancer, six weeks before my 34th Birthday. So this is officially my 3rd birthday after diagnosis. Never in a million years would I have guessed that this would be my life at 36. The best thing about life at 36 is that I'm aware and more thankful and grateful for every day I have here on earth. For the people who surround me and love me for who I am. Sometimes I sit and watch people who supposedly have it all. The husband, house, kids, dream job & car. I watch in amazement as these same people still find something to complain about. How is that possible?

Earlier today I caught a little bit of "Extreme Home Makeover"...you know the one that no matter how hard you try, you can't watch with out shedding enough tears to remove a drought. A little girl had been writing the show forever, begging for help for her family of 7 who were forced to leave their home and live in a hotel room because of toxins that were found in their home. She prayed and she prayed, and at times she wanted to give up. She told her mom that part of her felt that God just didn't care about them.

I understand her , probably more than someone who hasn't experienced a loss or traumatic event. Every year that I'm blessed with another birthday I'm reminded that no matter what, we have to stay faithful and positive. We have to stay committed to our journey and the road we are traveling. No it's not easy, but what is? I still have my moments of despair, but that's okay. I may not have everything I want in life, but I have everything I need.

So here's to another birthday and to being open and receptive to the blessings that are bestowed upon me everyday.