First, thanks to the website http://www.nbcam.org/index.cfm for this too cute for words logo! The site has tons of information about breast cancer, spreading awareness, etc.
In a past life (about eight years ago I think) I worked for a company that sold cancer plans. Part of my job was to train agents about the product, give them facts to share with their clients and provide materials needed for them to be successful.
But there is one tidbit that always stood out for me. . .
One in two men will be diagnosed with cancer and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer
That should stop about anyone in their tracks and if it doesn’t? Well, I have no words. We all know someone who was diagnosed with some form of cancer. Sometimes it is as simple as a mole has cancer cells, the mole is removed and the person is fine. Other times it is the simple precancerous cells that are found, in say a woman’s cervix. But more times than not, the cancer is not detected until it has reached a point that it will impact that person’s life as well as those around them. Cancer is not to be taken lightly. It isn’t a joke. I have seen coworkers and friends watch their loved ones battle cancer.
My story is really quite simple and doesn’t compare to most who have dealt with cancer. Twelve years ago I went in for a routine pap smear. The results were abnormal and I was instructed to have a colpop. Basically, that is just a fancy word for biopsy. This allows the doctor to take a look at the cells in question, send the cells to a lab if called for and then they call you back. Let’s just say, these phone calls are nothing to look forward to, I prefer not to hear from my doctors or nurses. They don’t call equals good news.
But the nurse called back and asked for me to come in to speak to my doctor. To say I was freaked out would be understating my feelings at the time. I went in, we talked, she explained what she needed to do next and threw out the term, displaysia, meaning, precancerous cells on my cervix. I was 24 at the time and didn’t really think about the outcome being bad. I remember thinking that if they can’t get it or it comes back, well, just take everything out. As much as I have always wanted to be a mom, at this point, I was more concerned about what they had found and what it could be.
The setting up for the procedure (LEEP) took longer than the actual procedure. They shaved the first layer of my cervix off and sent me on my way. At 24 I wasn’t thinking all the gloom and doom. My next three pap smears came back normal and all was right in the world.
I had a repeat of that story last summer but luckily, we only got to the colpop stage and everything looked fine. Two pap smears down, one more to go and then it is back to annual checkups.
I share all of this with you to let you know that cancer is real, it can hit anyone, young, old, kind, mean, anyone. Last summer, the scare hit me harder because I was older and knew that my stupid biological clock was ticking and I no longer was blase about take it all out if need be.
I have known ladies who hate going in for a pap smear and it drives me insane. I have said it here before, if a few minutes of being uncomfortable for a test prevents months of chemo, surgery, etc. then sign me up! I have no shame about going to the doctor, advocating for myself and making sure that I have the checkups when needed.
I also do the self check breast examine monthly. I don’t really know what I am looking for but if I ever felt something off, I would call my doctor and discuss it with her.
So save the ta tas! Check them out monthly, get your yearly exams and for the men in your life, force them to the doctor annually for blood work and a checkup. Most of this will fall under your wellness allowance on your health plan, so take advantage of that.
And most importantly, be an advocate for your health. While this month is all about boobs, wearing pink and making others aware, it is only a month, so carry over that awareness for the rest of the year.
And maybe tomorrow I will share with you my fun filled, silly weekend.