I’m only sharing this to remind all women that it is important ito make time for these routine tests…
I had my annual woman exam yesterday, which was very much past due. The importance of yearly exams and tests is ringing especially true since Kathy died of cervical & ovarian cancer just months ago. Dottie fought and beat breast cancer a number of years ago. We probably all have someone in our life who has had some such encounter. Keeping up with regular exams is any woman’s best chance at preventing and/or catching any problems early. So, I had my exam and we talked about how I need another mammogram, considering the scare I had several years ago. Again, I am sorely past due for these tests. I have no excuse. Sure, I’ve had a bit going on in the last few years, but that is just an excuse. An excuse is a reason that you come up with to not do something. It’s not a valid reason, as there is no valid reason to neglect your own health. Do you have a lot going on and many important things to take care of? Well, that’s all the more reason to take care of yourself. You can’t be much help to anyone else if you find your own health in the dumps. I believe that applies to everything from exercise, quiet time, healthy habits and getting the proper screenings on a regular basis. You may remember that several years ago I had quite a scare. If you don’t remember or weren’t around for that, then you can go back to April 2009 on my blog and read all the dirty details. In short, I had a very strange breast problem, went to the doc who sent me to have a mammogram. That lead to an ultrasound and another mammogram and then to a breast specialist. That led to a needle biopsy and then a surgical biopsy. Thant God it was not cancer and we all breathed a sigh of relief. I was supposed to have a mammogram a year later and that year got away from me and turned into several years. That is not excusable and I will not even try. Anyway, the nurse just called and I have a mammogram tomorrow at 10:30. I have no reason to suspect that it will be anything but normal, but prayers are appreciated.
Now that I’ve shared such personal information, I feel like I really must clarify what is routine for most women. From the age of 21, women should have a PAP every two years. If you have several normal tests in a row then you may be able to do it every three years. Your doctor is the only one who can tell you when you have reached an age when the test is no longer necessary, but that is usually in your 60’s. As for mammograms, women over the age of 40 should have one yearly. If you have any issues, a personal history of problems or a family history of problems then you may need one sooner and/or more often. Afraid of the test? Don’t be. It’s not fun, but it’s pretty well the equivalent of squishing your boob and taking a few special photos. It doesn’t last long and then you won’t have to do it again for a while. Afraid of what it may show? Don’t be. If all is normal then you will breathe a sigh of relief. If something does show up, then you have a much better chance of survival because you caught it early. Just do it. Seriously. Do it.
Don’t believe me? Maybe you would take a note from a more famous figure. Angelina Jolie just had a preventative double mastectomy. Her mother died very young and then she found out that she carried the gene mutation that drastically increases her chances of breast cancer. I don’t personally know many who have had that gene test or chosen such extreme proactive surgery, but the story is still relevant. No woman is immune and we all owe it to ourselves to care for our bodies and be aware. We have different levels of financial ability, but anything is better than nothing. If you don’t have insurance or the cash, then look around. There are programs that provide free cancer screening, free mammograms, etc. I will even go so far as to say that skipping a night out or saying no to a new pair of shoes is worth the sacrifice. Save the money, get the tests. You are worth it. We are all worth it.
As for you men, I think you are worth it, too. I don’t know the protocol for routine tests and exams for me, but you should look it up.