Hold your breath and count to ten

I am apparently quickly becoming a woman “of a certain age.”

This is my birthday week… yeah, I am going to celebrate all stinkin’ week, that’s how I roll. Yesterday I turned 49, and I’ve got a lot going on to celebrate – not my birth, but my life.

Monday I went in for my yearly physical. My doctor gave me a copy of this magazine. Yes, she actually told me it would only be a few years before I was dealing with… well, you know… *whispers* menopause.

My response was a resounding, “bring it on!” My body temp is about two degrees below normal all the time. I am incessantly cold. I embrace the idea of hot flashes and night sweats. During the summer I keep going behind the Mister and bumping up the settings on the thermostat, trying to keep it warmer inside the house. And, I still wear fuzzy wool socks and sweats. Winter months find me bundled up like I live in Antarctica and not on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I will welcome the natural heating.

Tomorrow is my annual knead-n-squeeze. Since I have a very high incidence of breast cancer in my family (really, many types of cancer) I have conscientiously had a mammogram every year for the last 15 years. (I got my baseline when I was 35.) Ladies! Do your monthly self-exams and if you’re 40 or older, start getting those mammos. Find a friend and go together, make it a spa day, anything you need to do to get it done. No excuses.

Men! Listen up…. you can get breast cancer too. Because screening in men isn’t as routine as for women, it’s typically found in later, more critical stages. Get any tissue changes or lumps checked out by a physician. It could easily save your life. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,100 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and 450 will die from the disease.

I am a huge proponent of mammograms. Sometimes I make fun of all the horror stories about how traumatic these screenings are, but trust me on this… they are not that bad. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you can make it through a mammogram. What is more important? A few seconds (and it really is merely seconds) of discomfort compared to undetected cancer and possible death?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I always schedule my annual health screenings during this month mainly because it’s easier to remember if it’s tied to my birthday. If you’re not of an age where a mammogram is recommended, and you haven’t started self breast exams, start now. Have annual gyno exams, read, ask questions, be familiar with your own body, do whatever you have to do, be proactive in protecting yourself against this insidious enemy. Early detection of any cancer is vital. Don’t let fear keep you from doing something so simple that could quite literally save your life.

Submitted as part of Shell’s “Pour Your Heart Out” writing prompt at Things I Can’t Say. Please stop by to read the other posts, and give a little comment love.

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

18 thoughts on “Hold your breath and count to ten

  1. Happy Birthday to you! I had my first breast mammogram and ultrasound last year when I felt something in my right breast. It was a very scary experiernce, and thankfully my results were good, but I do take my (breast) health very seriously.


  2. Happy Birthday week! And thank you for the mammo-reminder. Breast cancer runs in my family. You’d think I’d be diligent. I’m not. I had one three years ago. I need to make that call.


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