October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I get to nag a bit about something I see as so very important. Mammograms. Here again is my story, a small part of it, and a reminder:
I didn't feel a lump or anything unusual when I had my mammogram back in 1999. But something was wrong and the mammogram picked it up.
The cancer was stage 1 or 2, I don't remember. Because it was caught so early, I didn't need chemo which was a huge relief. But a lumpectomy, 14 lymph nodes removed, and then seven weeks of radiation therapy was not easy, nor were the five years on the drug Tamoxifen that followed.
None of this was easy, but it wasn't all that difficult either.
I was treated at the UCLA Medical Center and I decided to attend a support group for cancer patients, offered by the hospital. It was led by a remarkable woman, a three-time survivor of a very deadly cancer. As I sat at the table and looked at the other women in the group, I knew I was the healthiest, I knew many of them would not survive for long. Knowing this was not easy, but it gave me a new perspective on life and death. A lesson, not sought out, but still a lesson well worth learning.
Life is precious. I am thankful for each day. I remind myself of this every morning in a prayer of gratitude.
I was 59 years old at the time.
In the end, my cancer episode was no more than a pebble on the road of my life.
Who knows what would have happened had I decided to skip my mammogram just that one time, wait until the following year, wait maybe six months, since I was so busy.
So I got it done.
This year, I worry that women may not go because of covid-19. I know I was worried even though I live in a small town with a brand new Adventist Health hospital. I decided to make my appointment first thing in the morning. It worked out well and everything was very safe.
All that to say, I hope every woman who needs to get this done will find a way, even in the midst of this covid crisis.