Friday, June 3, 2011

Have You Had Your Mammogram?

One of the fabrics in the collection, Fight Like a Girl 2, is a series of squares that I used for blocks in the quilt pieces I designed.  While not the most poignant of phrases, I did include "Have You Had Your Mammogram?"  I had an uncle who regularly asked this question.  True.  I was tempted to tell him, "NONE OF YOUR (insert explicative here) BUSINESS."  However, after the first few times laughing him off, I realized that what he was asking was important!  Early screening is our BEST tool for detection.  Early detection is our best chance for fighting the disease.

While not having faced the disease (of breast cancer), I (like many of you) have heard about every excuse for not participating in early screenings.  I (also like you) have lost friends and watched others fight their way through the disease.  I get regular mammograms because their examples of courage and facing their fears have inspired me.  Sometimes I need to be reminded.  If you love them, ask, "Have you had YOUR mammogram?"

It is so important that we encourage one another to not only talk about breast cancer (and other cancers) but that we be mindful of how grateful we should be for the chance for everyone to get good health screenings.  Breast cancer treatment has come a long ways towards early detection practices and treatments.  Long before a cure is found, I hope that we can help one another to face the fear...the fear of "what if" and all the other profanities of our ignorance.  While no one wants to hear they have a mass or a lump or a "suspicious spot", we need to be mindful that early detection is our best defense against the disease.

When my family was young, I went through a period of time where I had to keep repeating a form of cancer detection tests.  When I got my first "suspicious" test, I started planning my funeral (hey, I didn't say this was going to be reasonable).   Even though my doctor assured me that they weren't sure and I would just have to be "watched," the angst on my doorstep was very heavy.   After having to go through the procedures repeatedly for more than a year, I had to get past my own "far out there" fears and face some realities.  The first truth I discovered was that while I had a "suspicious" testing pattern, the tests being administered these days are much more refined than those of five years ago and are light years ahead of ten years ago.    Consequently, with all cancer screening procedures, we are bound to have more false positives.   I learned in this time of waiting not to dread the day that "suspicious" turned to cancer but rather to consider that it is a miracle that we have testing that can break down the elements of cancer and pre-cancerous and suspicious.

More than that, during challenging times, we are all called to re-evaluate our priorities.    I always think it is a matter of finding a better balance in our lives.  Creating through sewing, drawing, crafting and much more isn't an addiction but rather it is my way of keeping a healthy balance in my life.  Feeding the inspirations in my soul keeps me grounded and yet affords me the chance to soar. 

My "suspicious" was resolved over time.  However, the lessons I took with me from the experience that lingered with me for more than a year was that there was nothing to fear with the screening.  The advancements in medicine and our overall health care have brought us to a point where it is so important that we talk about how to keep ourselves healthy.  Early detection screenings are just another tool in our health toolbox.

Fight Like a Girl in fabric is important to me for all of the men and women who are afraid of cancer screenings.  It is important for me because I want everyone to know that there are places you can go to get screenings for little or no cost.  And, yes, we all pay a price of some discomfort and some anxiety.  BUT, the professionals and those who are supporting the charitable organizations that offer free or low-cost screenings are so incredibly caring and want us to participate.

All the Best to You, jill

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Your thoughts are exactly what I was looking for. You don't know how much you have helped me. I believe you will help many people who are afraid to go get screened.
Take care,