Sunday, January 10, 2010

Obsessed with my Breasts

I am, a bit. But not for the reasons you all might think. Or the reasons you might be obsessed with them.

See, I hit a critical point a little over a year ago with respect to these bad boys. Well, bad girls.

I turned 40. It's the year all women who don't have other risk factors are supposed to get their first screening mammogram. I'm fortunate enough that I don't have other risk factors, to be sure. But there is something a little nerve-racking, even about something that should be routine. The likelihood that they find something is small. But what if they do?

Breast cancer is a scary thing. Your lifetime chances of developing it are about 1 in 8. And while chances increase with age, it's not just a disease of old women. Unlike, say, prostate cancer. I'm not sure on the exact statistics, but if you guys are fortunate enough to live to the average male lifespan or beyond, there is a pretty good chance your prostrate cells go haywire and give it up to the big C. But breasts are funny things. You can have 90 year old breasts that (save for gravity) are as good as new; but you can lose them at 35 to an aggressive cancer in the blink of an eye.

And its not just about statistics. Its about real people. Like my roommate/suitemate from college who's already been through it, the treatments, the lost hair, the lost breasts. All before the age of 42.

Seems like an easy fix, and eventually, it just is something I have to do. But there always seems to be one good excuse or another. First it was that we switched from being a military family to a civilian family, and I didn't have free dependant health care and had to find a new provider. Then it was we moved, and I have to find a new provider. And the excuses are supplemented by things like the fact that I haphazardly check myself and haven't found anything. And the fact that my husband is a doctor and periodically checks (though between you and me, I think somewhere in the process he gets distracted and it loses its medical efficacy).

The excuses will eventually run out, and I'll eventually go to the doctor, but it will likely be because I need my migraine prescription refilled and not because I'm so diligent about my preventative care.

I take my kids to get their shots and their teeth cleaned. I take my car to get it tuned up. I budget. I just need to make that call - be willing to give up an hour in my day to let some machine give me a squeeze and spit out the images for someone like my husband to read.

Piece of cake, right?

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife


Heather said...

They really aren't as bad as you think it's going to be, you know.

In fact, I've found that everything I might have been scared of is not as bad as I thought it would be.

Betty Underground said...

They totally are not as bad as you think. I mean, gettin annually poked in the nether region without so much as dinner and drinks is far worse.

DrChako said...

You realize this is akin to me not signing our taxes, right?

KenP said...

it's not just a disease of old women. Unlike, say, prostate cancer.

SNICKER I think your gyn is spreading old wive's tales about what's down there.

BadBlood said...

Get it done, for your, Chako's and your children's sake.

Just last Wednesday I had my first ever, ahem, prostate exam. I'll be 42 in April.

I was really NOT looking forward to it, but after buying my doctor a drink and marking the calendar for our second date, it was good to know my prostate health was OK.

jjok said...

my wife is 34, and carries that gene. Her mom has had BC 3 times.....and the last time 2 years ago, she went with a double mastectomy.

My wife got tested and the odds are so stacked against her, it's more a question of when instead of if.

And she's going to take the plunge after having several counseling sessions......she's doing a double with a reconstruct.....most likely this summer.

It's a freaky disease, this BC. Can catch anyone offguard. Get your butt to the doc.....please. ;)

BamBam said...

Do NOT make me come out there to take you myself.


BWoP said...

Piece of cake when you consider the potential downside scenario.

Don't make me come up with a spreadsheet to bring the numbers into sharper focus for you.

Falstaff said...

As a husband who's currently awaiting the results of gene testing because his wife's mother, aunt AND maternal grandmother all died of breast cancer, not to mention as your friend, I humbly request that you stop fucking around with this before I hop a plane to the left coast and tote your skinny arse to the doc's office myself.

And you know I'm big enough to throw you over one shoulder and do it.

Also, if you have any risk factors other than the mere fact of being female, please consider (with discussions with your doctor) an MRI of the area in question, as many people are now considering a mammogram not enough for folks in high-risk groups.

Obviously this is something that I've spent a lot of time thinking about, particularly recently, and like with everything, it's better to know what's going on than to be in the dark.

And you can tell by the comments that there are too many people who love you for you to screw around with this any longer. So are you going to go under your own steam, or are Bammer and I going to kidnap you?

DrChako said...

Well, I agree with everything so far except the MRI. Screening breast MRI is not FDA approved and definitely not ready for prime time. It's only approved for patients with a high risk (i.e. BRCA gene and/or very significant family history) which is certainly not you. The problem is that the sensitivity is too high, meaning it finds a bunch of stuff that we feel obligated to biopsy, but should probably have been left alone.

I agree with everything else. Go get a mammogram. That's why you wrote this post, right? So the community (not just your husband) can collectively kick you in the butt.

Do it!


The Sister of DrChako and Mrs. Chako said...

The fear of it was WAY worse than the real thing. Not a big deal at all. And my girls mean business, woman.