Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More birthdays, please.

More birthdays. That's what we keep getting with my momma. It's pretty awesome. There have been so many times when we've been told there would be no more birthdays, and yet today, here she goes again, getting older.

And I thank God everyday that she is.

I'm not just thankful for her birthdays. I'm thankful that she is here for my birthdays, Little Bird's birthdays, everyone's birthdays.

When I was seven, Momma was diagnosed with breast cancer and not given great odds. Then, in 2004 (I think, it's hard to even keep track now), she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Both diagnosis came with the very real threat of no more birthdays.

Yet, here she is, turning a glorious and beautiful 69 years old today. Happy birthday, Reverend Mother.

Ironically enough, today the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force issued a recommendation against routine mammograms for women in their 40's. They also poo-pooed the idea of regular clinical breast exams and educating women on monthly self breast exams.

From my wording, you can obviously tell that I'm extremely opposed to their recommendations. You can find a slightly less leaning and far more intelligent explanation of their study over at Toddler Planet. It's no surprise that my best friend is once again the voice of reason while I flame emotional.

I have the same emotional reaction to the lack of funding for Inflammatory Breast Cancer research. It doesn't get the funding or attention because not enough women die from it. I dare you to tell the women from Mothers With Cancer that NOT ENOUGH women die from IBC.

It's the same premise that the USPSTF is following though. Meh, only 3% more women died of breast cancer, and HEY! Look at all the money we save not doing routine mammograms on women in their 40's!

Bottom line. Frankly, I think you have to be a real asshole to only be able to see the bottom line. That was supposed to be a pun. I don't think it worked very well.

The American Cancer Society has started promoting "breast awareness" above the "monthly self breast exam." That's still dangerous, because you are really just playing with words there, but it's not the same as recommending that none of it is really that important because only 3% more women died.

Here's the thing, and I totally am stealing this thing from Susan. You have two breasts. If one of them starts to look different than the other, get thee to the doctor that very day. That's breast awareness.

Here's the other thing. I had my first mammogram on my 30th birthday. I haven't had one in about three years now due to pregnancy and breastfeeding, and I probably won't have another one until I'm 40 for the same reasons. But you - all my female friends - you need to be getting them. You need to be checking your boobies, and if you have any family history, tell your doctor you want your mammograms now. Get that baseline and then repeat every year. Your doctor can help you fight your insurance company if you need to. But start now before the world goes INSANE and starts listening to the USPSTF.

Just 3% more. Go ahead. Tell that to the 3%'s families who won't be getting any more birthdays with their loved ones.