I got my mammies grammed today. I had my first mammogram when I was 35 -- five years earlier than recommended -- because my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This, of course, increases my chances of having it; the good news is that she was 70, which reduces my chances a tad. She had a radical mastectomy shortly after her diagnosis, which caused edema in her left arm. This was further complicated by the stroke she suffered about three years later (the same day Nixon had his). The stroke affected her left side; her left arm was "frozen" in an awkward position which made it more difficult to relieve her edema. The cancer then moved to her right side a few years later, which also required surgery. Since the right was her "good" side, they left her lymph nodes to lessen additional edema. Truly, the last thirteen years of her life were difficult for all of us, but they were miserable for her. She suffered a long, slow decline, physically as well as mentally; it was a blessing when she finally left that body behind. I'm not saying all her problems were related to the breast cancer; it just added to her challenges.
So, I get a mammogram every year. Then wait. Ugh. You wait for a phone call if there's an issue, and wait for a letter if there's not. I'm not the best wait-er, but I've only had a couple of scares. One was a thumbprint on the film; the other required further tests (a needle biopsy) but all was well. No phone calls yet....still waiting.
My next necessary evil is my annual well-woman visit. Yeehaw! I always look forward to getting poked and prodded, with ice cold torture implements, while lying down, spread eagle, with my feet in those comfortable stirrups. I've been pretty good keeping up with these appointments, and again, only a couple of scares that we caught in time. Although seeing the gynecologist is not my favorite appointment, it's the one I have the most experience with, and it's just kinda annoying. But necessary.
The final evil is a colonoscopy. Double ugh. A colonoscopy is recommended beginning at 50. Hey, I never said I was punctual. Doctors say early detection is important with breast cancer, but it's key with colon cancer. The doctor who will perform the procedure, my new BFF (trust me, he will be after the procedure!), told me that 90% of colon cancer goes undetected without a colonoscopy. By the time you figure it out, it's no bueno for you. Luckily, there's no family history here, so my chances are as good as everyone else's, about 5%. Besides, March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month so get yourself a colonoscopy to celebrate!
OK, so maybe this isn't my most hilarious or insightful post, but it may be one of my most important. Figure out how old you are (check driver's license if necessary) and read this article for age-appropriate medical tests. Then get them done. Yes, being a responsible adult sucks. Do it anyway. If not for yourself, do it for the people who may want you to stick around.
Now all I need to do is quit smoking and lose 85 pounds. Triple ugh..... Would someone please pass the chocolate?
Have you put off recommended medical tests? Why? Have you thought about the possibilities if you don't have them done?
Have you been there?