Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

It's my annual "Get your boobies checked!" post. I've gone for my mammogram; have you?

When I was 12, almost 13, my mother died of breast cancer. She was diagnosed at age 29, died when she was 32. I remember many things from those years, and not many of them are fuzzy warm memories. Yes, today we've got better at detecting cancer and treating it, and life expectancy after dianose has increased. But cancer is cancer. And it is horrific.

When I was approaching 29, I got nervous. I'd already had two or three mammograms -- they called them "baseline" mammograms, but they always looked at me a bit apprehensively as they said it -- but that age made me nervous. I turned 29. Then 30. It was when I turned 32 that I began to feel quite sad. At 33, realizing I had already outlived my mom made me incredibly sad. Despondent. There is no way of turning back the clock or getting my mother back, and I have never had the conversations with her that I wish I could've had. Even today -- I can't simply call her and say, "Mom. B is being such a jerk. And why does my eggplant keep burning when I fry it?" Someone else taught me to shave my legs. My step-mother took me for my first birth control pills. My mom isn't with me in any of my prom or homecoming pictures.

When I went last week, they said after the mammogram and physical exam, "Hm. Something isn't right. It's probably nothing, but... we're going to get someone to take you down to ultrasound right now." And they did. And they wrote on my boobs with a pen. And it was nothing! Never had kids, so I've got dense breast tissue. But for about 45 minutes, I had to focus on my breathing in order not to pass out. I was lying there in a hospital bed, wondering what was going to happen to me. How my life might change. What if I wasn't here in a year.

It was nothing. This time. So I'll be back next year. And until then, I'm fighting the good fight, trying to keep myself healthy in a variety of ways. And I'm urging all of you to look at your risk factors, assess, and today in the shower, give yourself a good feel. Arms up. Press around. You know the drill. And if you should -- then please, make that appointment for a mammogram.

PS No health insurance, like me? Most major cancer treatment centers offer free mammograms to those who qualify. Everything at my yearly visit is covered, even that ultrasound. And I got some chocolate. :)

PPS Interested in helping out women currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer? Eclectix posted a link to an art auction on eBay. Some gorgeous art there.


  1. Before I was born my paternal grandfather died of cancer, and then when I was little my father´s brother got it and died when I was seven. I remember everyone crying that year. The grown-ups were sort of defenseless and I think it shaped them, especially my father who lost all other males in his family. I recognize the age-thing you mention so well, my father is a pretty jolly person, always close to laughter and jokes, but that year, when he was as old as his father was when he died, he thought a lot. And then my mother got breast cancer. I remember thinking it was worst for my dad. I had a baby and I was devastated and in the middle of life all at once. I breast-fed both my children for a year. She´s well now, my mother, but I never stop worrying. And we haven´t gotten any better at dealing with it, we´re skinless people, maybe everyone is. I´m so sorry for your loss. I have nightmares about dying from my children. And cancer - I´d erase it if I could. I can´t be normal in the face of it, it´s too real and too terrifying.

    The eggplant: you need to put too much olive oil on it, more than you think and then some. It´s the only way, it´s not for diety people, but it´s good =)

  2. Even when you tell the truth, you make it sound like a story I am hearing by the fireside. Who were you in a previous incarnation, I wonder?

    Re: frying eggplant: That is exactly what I am doing wrong! I only put in a bit of olive oil! And it soaks it right up, like a sponge. Thank you. I'll try that, probably this week.

  3. Sometimes you do say the nicest things =)

  4. Gee, B--I wish I could have been there holding your hand or some shit like that--I'm sorry the docs scared you like that! But, I'm glad you go every year... and I had no idea cancer centers do that--I need to look into that.

    I think you need a hug. *hugs*