Yesterday I went in to Fletcher Allen for my annual check up. And I took along some scarves.
TWENTY-FIVE scarves to be exact! I couldn’t have done this without all of you. Seriously, I couldn’t knit 25 scarves on my own. Funds from the sale of these scarves will go to supporting the outreach and research of the High Risk Breast Cancer program of vermont. That’s the research group to which I’m donating samples. I, the doctors, nurses, and other patients all thank you. Especially the ones who stopped me and my giant bag of scarves and asked what they were :-D
My mom had breast cancer when she was just 35. We get kind of twitchy when some scientists recommend that because of the metal stress of getting mammograms and biopsies women should wait until they’re older to start screening. If my mom had waited until she was older, she’d be gone. There’s no way around that fact. The cancer they found in her was a type that didn’t form lumps. But by 35 she already had 3 infected lymph nodes. They’re starting to think there may be benign cancers that don’t spread or cause trouble, but this wasn’t one of those cancers. I know it’s a huge balancing act in medicine: the cost of screening for diseases, the stresses they put on patients (even a fine needle biopsy can get infected) and the actual risk of a disease all need to be balanced against the actual dangers and risks to a patient.
But if you’re in a high risk group, or over the recommended age – go get your mammogram already! They’re the gold standard for tracking cancer. And they work best if you have a baseline one – something they can compare future mammograms against and look for changes. Sure, they’re not comfortable, but I honestly think your life is worth a few seconds of discomfort, don’t you?
And also, let’s all TALK about these things. I’m astonished at the number of friends I know who have family under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer. I think that if we can all talk about our experiences, and those of our friends and family, that’ll take the stigma off the disease. I remember my mom saying the same thing when she was diagnosed, I’m sure things are better now. But I still feel the more we talk about it the less people will be afraid to ask questions, see their doctors, and get screened.