Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A post about boobs

I know that the title of this post alone will probably get me lots of views, but I had my first mammogram today and I thought it might be worthy of a blog post.

When I found out my mom had stage 5 breast cancer this past June, it threw us all for a loop.  My mom has hardly ever been sick, and cancer doesn't even run in her family.  It was such a shock that it was happening.  Her doctors recommended that Rachel and I should start getting mammograms yearly, since my mother and aunt have both had breast cancer.  In America and the Japan, it's suggested that women over 40 should have mammograms, but I figured it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since it's not unheard of for women younger than 40 to get breast cancer.

Every year as an employee of the city of Sapporo, we are required to have a health checkup.  Just your regular stuff - weight, blood pressure, eye test, etc.  But I decided to add a mammogram to the list this year. Today, I was a little nervous going into the examination room.  I had heard that mammograms are painful, and I have to admit, they are.  I'll just leave it at that.  But what a relief it was afterward, when the doctor looked at my breast x-rays and told me that there are no tumors.  That I'm perfectly healthy.

I'm aware that this could all change in just a matter of months, but now I fully understand the importance of being proactive about cancer prevention.  When my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (yes, my dad has also had cancer), he wasn't even at the doctor's office for a prostate check.  He was there because he'd hurt his back, and the doctor suggested he get a check.  You know, just in case. And thank goodness he did, because they caught the cancer so early that all he needed was an operation. That's why I think it's so important for women to keep up with their checkups - including monthly self-checks and doctor's visits.  Pay attention to any changes in your body, and let your doctor know.  My mom's cancer didn't show up as the usual lump, but as a rash.  She had no idea it was any kind of cancer, must less one that spreads more quickly than other types.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and although I didn't post anything about it during that time, it feels to me now that every month is breast cancer awareness month.  Yet, even though breast cancer is now a part of our lives, it doesn't mean that it controls our outlook on life.

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