Two weeks ago I posted on here in honor of breast cancer awareness month. I wrote about a local teacher who had been newly diagnosed, and about 39 year old Meredith Israel and her three year battle with breast cancer. I wrote about how it’s stories like theirs which drive me to do what I do each day. I want to live a life with no regrets, for as much as is possible.
But I was 41 and had never had a mammogram. At 40 you can have a baseline and every year thereafter, have another.
Imagine what kind of regrets I would have if I ended up with a disease for which early detection is such a big part of the fight? Imagine what kind of role model I’d be for my three daughters if I missed this?
It was a comment on my blog from my new Kids’ State Dinner friend, Debra, that jolted me into action, booking my own mammogram that very day. Since she wrote it on my blog for all to see, I am copying it here for you to see:
I sometimes forget that people like you, Jennifer, who only met me after my treatment was complete don’t necessarily know that I’m also a breast cancer survivor. Four years ago this Halloween I did my “I turned 40 so I should have a baseline” mammogram and it came back abnormal. At the time, Madeleine was in half-day Kindergarten and Avi was in preschool 3 half-days/week. Many tests and rechecks later, I found I had an early-stage form of breast cancer. In February and March 2009 I had 2 lumpectomy surgeries and then 6 weeks of daily radiation from late April – early June 2009. Fast-forward a few years and I’m a survivor — I get checked a few times/year. Cancer-free for 3 1/2 years and counting! Get your mammogram — the best way to survive cancer is to find it early enough.
Like I said, it was this very comment that hit me on the head like a ton of bricks. What was I thinking? I’d had the paperwork for my baseline mammogram since January, five months after I’d turned 40 and nine months ago now. What was I waiting for?
I wasn’t afraid of taking the test. I wasn’t nervous about getting the results (yet). I guess I was just guilty of letting the days go by and not being one to put myself first, almost ever. Those of you who know me well, know that I spend PLENTY of time in doctor’s offices. I could practically BE a doctor by now, in any number of pediatric specialties. I guess my own “well visit” type of test just fell by the wayside.
So thanks to Debra, I called that day. I scheduled my mammogram for a week later, Monday, October 22.
I even had scheduled TWO, for a minute there, as after I scheduled one, I found out from my mom that a different place was giving out free Alex and Ani bracelets with the breast cancer “Hope” charm on them if you went and got a friend to go too. So I scheduled one there, a friend scheduled hers, and then later on I canceled the first one I’d scheduled. No free bracelet, no mammogram there for me.
It wasn’t until the night before the test that I started to get a tiny bit nervous. Had I waited too long? Was I going to be sorry for not doing it sooner? Was I going to have the biggest regret ever? What would the test show? I think I’m fine, I feel fine, but would I be surprised like Debra and so many like her had been?
Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about. They read my results right then and there, and I was fine. I got my bracelet and I even made my appointment for October 23, 2013 for my next one.
So thank you Debra, thank you Meredith and thank you to all of you who are my heroes in this fight against breast cancer (shout out to Meri K and Nicole W). There are so many out there who have lost their battle and so many still fighting today.
And I beg you: if you are 40 and haven’t had your baseline yet, take Debra’s advice above and go out and schedule it now, bracelet or no bracelet. (Although I realllly love my bracelet).
Don’t let this be your one big regret.