This year Breast Cancer Awareness Month has taken a backseat to the senseless murder of Gabby Petito and whether we need a Covid booster shot, so think of me as the little voice in your ear: When was the last time you had a mammogram? Are you doing regular self-breast exams? If you don’t remember the answer to the first question, and you answered no to the second, then may I make a suggestion?
Your life and your family’s life is in your hands. What are you waiting for?
I’m one of those women who examined my breasts in the shower and got regular mammograms so it came as a surprise, to me and my doctor, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. My mammograms that year—I had two, four months apart—showed I had a benign fibrocystic tumor. Nothing to worry about. But my little voice told me something else. Do you listen to your little voice? I do, because whether you want to call it intuition or the voice of God, it’s never failed me.
Since then I’ve had 10, grueling, breast cancer surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, the first round nearly killed me the second it hit my bloodstream, several emergency room visits, permanent damage to my heart, and I’ve spent a lot of time worrying if I’ll be here this time next year. I used to say breast cancer was a gift, but clearly I was on drugs and didn’t know what I was saying. What I should have said was breast cancer brought many wonderful people into my life. It made my faith and my walk with God stronger, but there is nothing good about breast cancer. As my friend, Dr. Susan Love told me, “The answer is not in “the cure,” or more cancer treatments that will have terrible side effects and collateral damage. The answer is finding a way to prevent breast cancer in the first place.”
Here’s a clip of me and Dr. Love on the television pilot I shot for PBS called Girlfriends of a Certain Age.
As someone who became high-profile in the breast cancer community (I had the Top Breast Cancer Blog for five years), I learned a lot about every facet of this insidious disease and the money grubbing “big pink business” it supports. One in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. You can exercise, eat right and drink in moderation, but if you’re like me, and you carry one of the breast cancer genes, you may still get breast cancer. As scary as this is, you need to know your breast cancer may not stop with you. If you carry the breast cancer gene, your daughters and granddaughters may get breast cancer, and your sons may pass the gene along to their children.
Knowledge is power. Please schedule a mammogram and be vigilant about self-breast exams.
Your family is counting on you.