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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Don't be Like My Mother
by Lois Winston

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection is key to surviving breast cancer. Ignorance is not bliss. I can’t stress how important it is for women to have yearly mammograms.

My grandmother had breast cancer. Knowing this, you’d think my mother would have been proactive, but she wasn’t. Every year her doctor would give her a prescription for a mammogram, and every year she’d toss that prescription in the trash. I had no idea she never went for mammograms until the day she called to tell me she had breast cancer.

Because she had refused to go for yearly mammograms, her cancer wasn’t caught in the early stages. By the time she felt the lump in her breast, the cancer had metastasized and spread to her bones. But cancer didn’t kill my mother; stupidity did. I have no doubt that had she gone for yearly mammograms, she’d be alive today.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Don’t be like my mother. Don’t be stupid. Schedule your mammogram today.

32 comments:

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

A very powerful message told in a very few words. Thank you for sharing your story.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Judy.

M. Johnston said...

Ditto what Judy Penz Sheluk said.

vicki batman said...

Oh Lois, this is heartbreaking. My mom didn't get them and yet, she's hale and hearty at 90. Cancer is the pits. Many hugs.

Gigi Pandian said...

So sorry about your mom, Lois. I'm with you -- I don't have a personal Facebook page and I don't share much personal/family information online, BUT I've been very open about my battle with breast cancer, because it's such an important issue that scares a lot of people. I know you'll be getting your preventative checkups!

stanalei said...

Done and Done. So sorry about your mother, Lois.

Lois Winston said...

Vicki, my MIL never got them, either, but there was no history of cancer in her family. Still, I think she was foolish not to, especially since she smoked for much of her life. Many women without a family history do get breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

Yes, Gigi, I get my mamma every year like clockwork. And I'm so glad you're a survivor.

M. Johnson and stanalei, thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words.

Gemma Juliana said...

Thanks for your wise message, Lois. I feel your pain. My mother had breast cancer. She got to the point where she refused to get check-ups. In her case, it was fear.

J.M. Maurer said...

Earlier this month, my girlfriend texted me: "Checking on my buddies boobies. Time to get them checked. Make your appointment now." I laughed at the time, but this really is a serious matter.
History or no history of breast cancer in the family, yes, take that script seriously and get the girls checked!
Like my friend who texted me, sharing the story of your mother will certainly remind others the importance of that mammo, and may even save a life. Thank you for sharing and caring.
Hugs to you.

Lois Winston said...

I'm sure fear was the driving motivator in my mother's refusal to get mammos, Gemma. Unfortunately, I didn't know she wasn't getting them until it was too late.

Marilyn Levinson said...

I'm sorry that your mother didn't get her mammograms, especially knowing that her mother had had breast cancer.

I was diagnosed with lymphoma months after I had the disease. The only symptoms were I felt lousy, was in pain in many parts of my body, and I was anemic. My boyfriend wanted me to have another blood test because he felt my being anemic as my age wasn't normal. I waited until I came home from Europe and then some. I was weaker and more anemic. I was finally diagnosed via a CT scan. I should have paid more attention to my various symptoms.

Lois Winston said...

Marilyn, I'm sorry to hear about your struggles. I hope you're doing better now.

Judy Baker said...

Lois, thanks for the warning, it's been too long for me, so I'll make an appointment. Thanks for the reminder.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, J.M.

Judy, pick up the phone now to make your appointment.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

On the money....it is so easy to put it off because it doesn't fit one's schedule, but it only takes a few minutes. mAybe the most important moments. Thanks for the reminder.

Lois Winston said...

You're so right, Debra. Thanks for stopping by.

Lesley Diehl said...

My ex MIL's sister had breast cancer, knew she had breast cancer, and refused to go to the doctor. She suffered unbelievable agony. Such a shame, such a waste. And then after her sister's death, my MIL refused to have mammos either. She also died of breast cancer. A good reminder for all of us to get out there and do it as well as remind, nudge or aggravate and annoy others to do the same. Thanks for being personal.

Kait said...

Oh, Lois, I am so sorry. ancer is awful, nasty, and sneaky. I did get annual mamograms, even got one as soon as I discovered a thickness. Every single mamogram came back clear. The biopsy was a different matter. Like Gigi, I am very vocal about my battle. If it helps one person, I'm grateful for the opportunity. Hugs.

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Lois, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. Let's hope more women take the time to schedule a mammogram. One simple phone call... Thanks for sharing

Lois Winston said...

Lesley, I hate hearing stories like this. I don't understand why people would rather suffer a terrible death than submit to a few minutes of discomfort during a mammo.

Kait, I hope you're OK now.

Joanne, you're right. It only takes a phone call--and showing up for the appointment.

Angela Adams said...

Lois, thank you so much for sharing with us.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Angela.

E. Ayers said...

So many people are afraid of mammograms and to be honest the new ones are a snap! Really! Find someplace that does the new 3D ones. They are so much better than the old ones! They can detect the cancer sooner. And really easy! If cost is a factor, just ask for help!There are all kinds of financial help for those in need and that doesn't mean you must be poverty stricken to get help! Some places even have a free month! Just find out which one and schedule your appt! And treatment isn't what it used to be! Especially if caught early.

I've lost friends to BCa and I have other friends who are 30-year survivors! Catch it early!!!

Lois Winston said...

Amen, E.!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Cancer of any kind is devastating. Lost a cousin and her daughter to breast cancer. Lost my son to multiple myeloma. Praying one day we'll have real cures for all forms of cancer.

Lois Winston said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Marilyn. Hopefully, that day will be here sooner rather than later.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

I absolutely 100% agree every woman should have yearly mammograms, hands down, no questions. But I have to say, Lois, that you kind of broke my heart when you said your mother died of stupidity. Clearly I don't know your relationship to her or the exact specifics of her disease. But between 6 and 10 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer are Stage IV (metastatic) from initial diagnosis. There is new research indicating that *some* breast cancers do not even start in the breast. Again, I don't know your mother's specifics. But yearly mammograms don't prevent metastasis any more than a yearly mammogram prevents breast cancer. Think kindly on those of us who followed the yearly plan to the letter and will only be able to call ourselves "survivors" by the grace of G*d.

Lois Winston said...

Jennifer, what you say is true. However, my mother was a women who ignored healthcare advice. Not only did her own mother have breast cancer, many other family members developed one form of cancer or another over the years. She also lost a friend to breast cancer. Yet instead of being proactive about her health, she chose to ignore the advice of her doctors and bury her head in the sand. Would she have been diagnosed with later stage breast cancer even if she had gotten annual mammo? Possibly. But the odds are it would have been caught sooner rather than later, giving her a chance to be a survivor. However, this attitude was a pattern throughout her life in many things beyond healthcare. So I stand by my assessment of the situation.

E. Ayers said...

Someone I knew many years ago watched every female in her family cope with breast cancer. Her mom died of BCa in her 40's and my friend's sister fought it for years and lost her battle when she was in her late 30's. My friend looked around and realized she didn't even have an aunt living. Her sister begged the doctor for a mammogram and the doctor said she was too young to worry about it. She informed him of her family history and he called in for her mammogram at the age of 25. She had a suspicious spot that was not cancer. My friend was newly wed and scared! She and her husband had several long discussions and they both came to the same conclusion. They discussed everything with her OB-GYN who said it was too radical! The friend wasn't going to take that for an answer and finally found a cancer specialist who said yes! At the age of 22 she had opted for double mastectomy and a complete hysterectomy. A year later, her only surviving sister had another mammogram that showed another "spot". That sister followed in her younger sister's footsteps. Both women wound up adopting and both are surviving some 30 years later.

My dearest friend has battled BCa about 4 years ago. Her mom had it. My friend had her daughter's DNA tested. The teen has the gene! That teen is also saying that she's not waiting around for it to strike her. She saw her grandmother die from BCa and helped her mom through treatments. That teen is already saying, the girls are going along with the ovaries and uterus! As harsh as it may sound, I understand that young woman's decision. She says it's her body and she has options! She's going to utilize them!

Not sure everyone would think that is a smart decision, but it makes perfect sense to me. It is an option, and in that teens mind, it's the right one for her!

Lois Winston said...

E., I made the decision to do the same thing if my gene testing had showed I carried one of the genes. However, even with both my grandmother and mother having had breast cancer, I didn't have either BRCA1 or 2. The girls are still with me, but they get a thorough look-see each year.

E. Ayers said...

People see pink ribbons all the time but people do not understand what they can do to prevent or to treat! It's all been shrouded under whispered conversations. What you did here was fantastic. I hope everyone takes the hint, and reaches out to their friends with reminders to have yearly mammos. And if something shows up...don't wait to have treatment. No excuses!

Your daughter's upcoming wedding is not an excuse, nor is visiting your sister in...and neither is that vacation of a lifetime.

If Mom has had breast cancer, the son has a higher chance of getting breast cancer and his odds of prostate cancer just went way up? If you think women are squeamish about getting a mammo - try telling the guys to go have a blood test that only requires a few drops of blood!

Lois, what you've done here is one way to remove the secrecy behind the pink ribbon! We all need to scream it from the rooftops!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, E.!