September 30, 2007

Think Pink

Tomorrow is October 1st. Actually, if you are reading this in the morning, that means TODAY is October 1st.

The beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. No, I’m not going to talk about my body parts anymore. That’s run its course.

I’ve been asked by an organization I’m in to write some ‘health’ oriented articles that pertain to women, for a newsletter. I’ve been pretty much handed the topics and was told, “Go!” Believe it or not, I can write. When I write for real, there aren’t any incomplete sentences, run ons or goofy sayings. As I’ve said before, blogging is different. I want you to hear what’s in my head.

Anyway, so I have these topics, one being Breast Cancer and the other being Cardiovascular Disease. Many of you are reading that and saying, ‘Cardiovascular disease and… women?’ Oh yes. Imagine my surprise when doing my research that Cardiovascular Disease is the #1 killer of women… beating out ALL forms of cancers COMBINED. Percentage wise, more women suffer from Cardiovascular Disease then men, so much so that the American Heart Association has started a big push for women called, Go Red.

So I called my sister while writing one of the articles and said, “Can you believe this? More women die of Cardiovascular Disease than Breast Cancer, but women aren’t afraid of it? WHAT is the DEAL with THAT?”

And her reply was very thought provoking. It was along the lines of, ‘Young women die of Breast Cancer. Most women with Cardiovascular Disease are older and everyone expects that older women are going to die, so they don’t think about it. Young women dying gets attention.”

She may be right. But… it didn’t stop me from going out and running five miles that day. My motto as of late is “I’m not dying of Breast Cancer or Cardiovascular Disease.” I want to just die in my sleep when I’m 95 having just has the best sex of my life. Ahhh… the probability of that is probably ZERO, but one can have goals, can they not?

The thought of my possibly having Breast Cancer was ‘unnerving’ as one of my readers put it. I received many email from men whose wives had been through this. And that is what one of the men, a man I have much respect for, told me… it was ‘unnerving’. That it was.

Even though I knew statistically I was fine, that even though my grandmother had it losing both breasts at around my age, I am most like my Mom who is also fibrocystic, even though I knew I didn’t hit any of the big risk factors having never smoked a cigarette in my life, only having been on the pill for a very short time when we first got married, and having breast fed all three of my sons, with Bones going for over a year, it was still unnerving.

You KNOW all these things, yet at 2AM, when you are alone with your thoughts… a little bit of doubt finds a way of sniggling into your mind. By morning you’ve chased it away, you have a life to live, you cannot dwell… but the fact is, that doubt was there for a moment and it left a shadow of itself for you to remember

And so I decided when this first started to transpire that I would blog all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. My experience was MINE and just an example. Other women have different experiences. My biopsy was for a small lump (1-1.2 cm) in an easy location to get to. I didn’t have to have surgery, just a needle biopsy, and because of its location and size, I feel certain there was not as much trauma to my body as there could have been. I know a couple women whose were a bit more invasive, but even then they said within a couple days it was not a big deal. The majority of women I know had an experience similar to mine.

And I know a lot of women who have had this done.

I don’t want women to be afraid. Get your Mammogram. If they recommend an ultrasound, do it. If they say you need a needle biopsy, it’s not a problem. Go to a place that has a good track record. Ask around. Get recommendations from other women you know or from a doctor you trust. I think faith in the hands in whom you’ve put your health in is… Big.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t be irresponsible. Taking care of your health, asking questions, taking care of YOU comes down to you. Nobody is going to do it for you. We women are typically the caregivers and that means we have to care for us too.

So… it is October. If you’re 35 years old and breast cancer runs in your family or even if it doesn’t, think about getting your baseline Mammogram. If you don’t get it done this month, get it scheduled. If you’re 40 or over, GO NOW. Get your baseline if you don’t have one, go back for another mammogram to compare to your baseline if you have not already. Schedule one. Schedule it in advance. Coincide it with your birth month. Just… do it.

It’s killed too many women I know. I’m watching women live with it as a chronic disease, knowing it will be what takes their lives. It may not be the number one killer of women… but it is the most visible.



Posted by Boudicca at September 30, 2007 09:15 PM | TrackBack

Another reason why more women die of cardiovascular disease and you do not hear as much about it-
-once in the ER from having chest pains, the doctors do not look at 'heart attack' or 'cardiovascular' disease. There is a big PUSH going on to get doctors, especially ER docs, familiar with and feeling comfortable with, telling a woman they have a problem, heart-wise.
Currently, most ER docs tell them it is stress and sends them home.
There is definitely a big discrepancy between the number of men diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and the number of women diagnosed.

If we cannot get the docs to look at women as big candidates for cardiovascular, how will the general public ever understand what a big deal it is?

Posted by: Rave at October 1, 2007 12:32 AM

Rave- You're right. I read about that and it frustrates the hell out of me. I think in general, many doctors don't listen to women period. It is aggrivating to have to fight for your health... which is what I'm doing now on another issue. I have actually left a doctor because she refused to listen. I'm with a new one now who is listening and realizing... I was right. I think it is a broad issue this being ignored, but cardiovascular disease is the biggest issue that is ignored.

Posted by: Bou at October 1, 2007 06:08 AM

What Rave said.

It's true and I have first had knowledge of it also.

At the age of 28 I thought what I was experiencing was a heart attack.

Rushed in by ambulance with them confirming there was something going on with my heart.

Waiting 30 minutes before a doc even looked at me, then wrote it off as a panic attack and 3 hours later tried to discharge me. I said have you even looked at my monitor, they finally looked at the 120bpm RESTING heart rate and then decided to look into my problems further.

Nobody, and I mean nobody took me seriously for nearly 4 hours that there was something wrong with my heart.

Every time I went for my heart problems nobody took me seriously for almost 6 months until I ran across a Cardiologist who finally took me seriously.

It's no wonder more women die of heart disease, because nobody takes them seriously. Heart disease is thought of as a "man's" disease.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at October 1, 2007 09:04 AM

I'd just like to suggest that no matter your age go ahead and get a mammogram. I know insurance doesn't cover then prior to 40 years of age, but I have a friend, under 30 at the time, no history of breast cancer in the family, and she had to have a double mastectomy. She's doing fine now, but it was very scary for a while. She was in Stage 4 (? final stage) when they found it.

Our office does a cholesterol blood screening towards the end of the calendar year. After the first of the year, we have a cardio screening where they do an ultrasound every other year for blockage in your aortas.

I'm very glad to hear your results turned out good, Bou.

Posted by: Tina at October 1, 2007 10:06 AM

My mom was a diabetic and lost her leg due to it. While in the hospice recovering, she had at least one heart attack. A couple of years later, it killed her.

Posted by: Ted at October 1, 2007 03:39 PM

I hope you will forgive me for not getting a mammogram.

Posted by: Peter at October 1, 2007 08:56 PM

I hate to say it Peter... but there are men who get breast cancer.

Glenn Reynolds wife (Dr. Helen) has been a strong advocate for better Cardiac care for women. She is also a woman who ended up with heart disease at a young age.

If you haven't read it yet, go check out her about my heart attack story... she was 37 at the time.

The answer - very sadly because it's the impossible dream - for many misdiagnoses is for doctors to throw away the "this is a man's disease" or "this is a woman's disease". We will continue to needlessly lose people until doctors start treating the symptoms they are observing - from the worst case scenario to the mildest scenario instead of the other way around. *sigh*

Posted by: Teresa at October 1, 2007 11:09 PM