I used to work at a bank that gave us the opportunity to pay to wear blue jeans on a specific day to bring awareness to breast cancer. Every year I would wrangle myself into denim and pay my $5 for the cause. I would tell myself that this makes a difference in the lives of women, and I was doing it for co-workers, friends and family members that have had breast cancer. I have done the walks and strides and sells for breast health awareness. I have purchased pink ribbon accessories, wore the t-shirts, pledged to fight and been enraged when I see women’s reproductive health be mandated by men, or the government, or both.
But what I have not done is consistently complete a breast exam. Every week. Every month. Every year. I am not sure I have done one in the 20 months since I have had the Baby. Sure, I have had my OB-GYN complete a couple exams pre/post-breast feeding, but I haven’t taken that step back into vigilance.
In essence, I am paying lip service to my stance for women’s reproductive lives without taking responsibility for my own. I am not doing the thing that will make the difference in my own life.
Wake the BLEEP up!!! What is wrong with me? Early detection is survival. Knowledge=Power, right?
If I look at the family tree, I hit all the branches. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, addiction, and the list goes on and on. But isn’t that how we live these days? Everyone has something? Can’t I just be normal and stick my head in the sand? Move along… nothing to look at here…
My grandmother had ovarian cancer. She survived; ultimately it didn’t end her life, but still, ovarian cancer. I have two other close family members on my mom’s side that have had breast cancer, or are going through treatment currently. We are in the process of determining if this could be genetic or if it is the best luck this family has ever had! (C’mon, I had to throw in a laugh there…)
KNOWLEDGE = POWER
I have two little girls; I don’t want to pass this on to them. Take my sense of humor, my love for all things Broadway, and my blank stare when stupidity arises in the crowd. For good measure, my giant feet, but please, not this brilliant stroke of medical luck.
I want them to hate/love me all the way into my very very old age when they have had babies and houses and big girl jobs and they NEVER have to worry about “How’s Mom doing?” or “I miss Mom.” I don’t want them to have to walk for me and wear pink ribbons and shirts that say “Save the Ta-Ta’s.”
I don’t want to feel helpless.
However, given my family history, and my belief that knowledge is power, and my firm stance that I have a choice; I NOW AND FOREVER AFTER have a date once a month with a screaming reminder to do my self-exam.
If there are changes to my body, I am in control and can choose to do something about it, rather than wait for the unknown to lurk into my life. I am informed, and I will provide an example to my girls that they can feel helpless to genetics, to family history, and to shoes that never fit, but they do not have to be powerless. For as much as I can be, I will be in control until someone tells me otherwise.
Ladies, I encourage you to do the same. Actually, I implore you. This is seriously the only thing you can do that will make a difference in the lives of those that matter to you. Do a self-exam.
Okay, it may feel weird at first (because really, it feels odd to aggressively feel yourself up for your health and not for fun) and you may not be sure what you are looking for. Trust me, if you feel something “not quite right,” you will know. If you don’t know what you are looking for and not sure you are doing it right, you are most likely doing it right and have found nothing. THAT’S GOOD NEWS!
But as a review, go here and follow the directions. Please.
And then keep doing it. Put a reminder on your phone for once a month. Maybe you can be the 7 out of 8 women who are NEVER diagnosed with Breast Cancer. That’s my goal.
But even if I don’t make my goal, I will know early and have options. Because I did the thing that made the difference.