Last night I found out that a 32-year-old mom and blogger named Amanda was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. I don’t know her, but we must have encountered each other online because we follow each other on twitter. And it seems like everybody I know knows her and loves her, so she must be good people. Last night social media exploded with words of support for her, and concrete plans to support her through her treatment.
I don’t know any of the details of how she was diagnosed, what she did or didn’t do, her family history or anything. This post isn’t about her.
It’s about you.
And, well, me. It’s always about me. And how completely illogical I’ve been when it comes to my own health.
Shortly after I turned forty I went in for my annual check-up. My doctor said “Well, you’re forty. Time for a mammogram. I’ll write you a referral.”
I’d heard so many stories about how painful mammograms are, I cringed. I actually cringed and made a face at my doctor, like a little kid.
And I held on to the referral, letting it sit in my to-do pile. For a year.
And then I went in for my annual check-up after turning forty-one. And my doctor said “Oh, I see you still haven’t had a mammogram. Let’s make an appointment for you before you leave today, OK?”
Smart woman. She knew not to trust me again.
A couple weeks later I went in. It was the day after a snowstorm and I was hoping they would call and cancel my appointment, but they didn’t. I had built this up in my head to be some horrible procedure, and I was sweating as I got undressed.
And while it wasn’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever done, it was pretty easy. And quick. And I felt really stupid for trying to avoid it.
Listen, depending on your boobs, your mammogram might be more uncomfortable than mine. Who would have guessed that the post-kid droopiness I’ve complained about would serve me well during my mammogram?
But here’s the stupid part. I’m not a person who shies away from pain, or physically uncomfortable situations. If I were the kind of person who routinely avoided all pain, delaying my mammogram would at least be logical. But here are some things I’ve done that were much, much more uncomfortable than my mammogram:
- Getting many different parts of me waxed dozens of times
- Getting electrolysis on that super-sensitive area right under my nose
- Completing four half marathons and a (walking) marathon.
- Biking 54 miles (that was two days ago – I’m still sore)
- Stubbing my toes too many times to count
- Putting together an IKEA bed by myself
- Sitting through a three-and-a-half hour school concert
- Watching Dog With A Blog with my daughter
My point with the above list is that I routinely do things that I don’t want to do, whether intentional or not, that are uncomfortable. And yet, even though I’m blessed with good insurance and access to all of the health care professionals I could possibly need, I completely passed on my opportunity at breast cancer detection because I didn’t want to be uncomfortable.
Don’t be dumb. Get a mammogram. No excuses.