October is Breast Cancer Awareness
We all know the importance of “early detection”. What does that mean to you…small lump during self-exam or knowing your risks as a young woman? To me it means both! I have way too much experience with breast cancer in my life. I have lost friends and family. But, I will tell you my 94 year old grandmother is a survivor. She was diagnosed with TWO kinds of mutations and took aggressive life saving measures. These days she giggles with pride – she doesn’t need a bra ever again! Gram was 65 when she was diagnosed during an annual recommended screening, and because it was caught early, she had good results.
My own experiences make me hyper-vigilant about my screenings. In addition, I PREACH to my peeps to make sure they get it done. A few years ago my preaching led to a friend, under forty years old, going in for her very first mammogram. She had always thought mammograms were for old ladies.
She had cancer… and if she had waited until she was “over 40″… we may have lost her. Early detection is subjective – small lump during self-exam or knowing your risks as a young woman? Know your risk factors, ask your doctor, or just do the screening so there is a baseline to compare as you age. If you are of the age recommended for screening, do it! I schedule my screening EVERY YEAR during my birthday month. This helps remind me. I am celebrating another rotation around the sun, but also acutely aware how precious my life is.
Now for some more PREACH! The last year of “my” life I have been focused on launching the studio, balancing my family life, and discovering what I want to be when I grow up. What I have not been focused on is my own self-care.
Even though I have deep familial risks for breast cancer, I have never been so afraid of my screening result. Why? Because I knew…I KNEW I had not been taking care of myself. My self-care has been my prescription for my anxiety, my stress, and my depression. It has also been the platform for healthy choices and exercise. When you fall off that wagon….you fall. As I sat next to Dr. Barclay-White holding my breath for my results, I heard my inner voice screaming ‘please say you didn’t make yourself sick!’ I had fallen off the self-care wagon and was deathly afraid of what it had done to my wellness. Whew! All clear. But now I know I have to do better.
I get my annual screenings at Arizona Breastnet. I have been going there for years. I had a breast reduction when I was 35 and the scar tissue makes it difficult to self-exam. Their facility is my only choice for screening. I had scans done after my surgery, which were misread, causing panic and unnecessary fear. The wait for new scans to be done was unbearable.
Arizona Breastnet has a spa-like setting. They have a women-only staff and I am able to sit with the doctor to view my results immediately. Each year I review the side-by-side scans from the prior year with Dr. Barclay-White. She explains what we are looking at and makes recommendations if needed – leaving me with a feeling of power. That power is knowledge. If your scans are not clear and more comprehensive testing is needed, it will be done right there and then. No waiting for days or weeks plagued by anxiety. Visit Arizona Breastnet for more information and practice self-care.
Self-care comes in many flavors and is available everywhere. Find what helps you do better and do it. Self-care is not selfish. It is the new buzz word but what does it mean? It simply means take care of yourself!