Take care of your breasts

I am amazed when I hear that some still dispute the validity of mammograms and other tests. I am shocked by the professionals who say it, and incredulous that women actually believe it. 

The statistics for breast cancer are frightening. According to experts, 1 in 8 women can have it. Progress is being made to cure it, but prevention is best. Take care of your breasts. Examine yourself monthly, and see a doctor at least once a year.

I am usually private about my life, but certain things are worth mentioning because they can help others. I believe that those of us who reach so many have an obligation to serve when we can. This is why I will tell you my story.

I had a mammogram in November 2001, and a few days later the clinic called to tell me they had found something that they needed to verify with an ultrasound. Two days later, I had the ultrasound, and they confirmed that there was a lump. 

This is nothing new for me, because I have what is called "Cystic breast disease". The only difference between me and someone who doesn't have it is that I need to be examined by the doctor at least twice a year, and the lumps are removed by syringe when they do appear. As long as they are liquid and not solid, I'm safe and happy.

Two days after the ultrasound, the doctor told me that indeed, the lump was liquid, so everything is fine. It was the 8th time that it happened to me since 1991. 8 times in 10 years. 

The first time it happened, I was naturally scared out of my mind. In fact, I must admit that every time it happens, I am concerned, until I actually get the results. 

Every time it happens, which is almost every year, it truly is a new birthday for me.  

The moral of the story is: Prevention is the key.

See your doctor, check yourself out, and you can beat the odds. Don't let the stats scare you. Take control.

I know that mammograms are not pleasant, I've had a few. Though doctors recommend that you start having them after the age of 40, my problem started in my late twenties, so I was among the exceptions. But the unpleasantness of the test should not stop you from taking it. As bad as it is, it only lasts a few minutes. Reward yourself with something pleasant afterwards to make up for it. 

Remember that this nasty disease affects men too. Yes, it does. So whoever you are, please take time out and have a checkup. You'll be glad you did, because you and those who love you will have peace of mind. 

Wishing only well,

Carmen Colombo
March 2002

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