Ok, first off, I have to say, I was struck this morning with a new feeling. NWC (nicole with cancer) hadn't really felt this one yet. It's pride. I'm kind of proud of the fact that I found the cancer myself, and had the guts to go and get it checked. GO ME! Even though I never expected it to really be cancer, I knew enough not to assume that myself. I guess the magnitude of that little decision to make a doctor's appointment is finally clicking in. I know it's so minor and simple, but it goes to show how something so small could save your life. Don't be afraid of it.
Being proactive saves lives. Don't procrastinate when it comes to your heath, whether that be breast cancer, heart issues, etc. There aren't many things we can control in this world, but for those things that we can, we should make good choices.
On that topic, I had an interesting conversation today. I was talking to my OBGYN, whom I just love. She was kind while I was going through infertility, she was patient when I had a difficult pregnancy, she was awesome when she delivered my son and she was compassionate today as we talked about my cancer. She is what a doctor should be. She is smart, but she also has a heart. And really, isn't that the point?
She was telling me about a report by the US Preventative Services Task Force (which I vaguely remember hearing about as NBC - "Nicole before cancer" if you are just catching up to the blog now) which recommended pushing back mandatory mammograms to the age of 50 and doing them every other year. But wait, there's more! It also said that because the chances of younger women getting breast cancer are so slim, self-exams are not recommended because they only cause undue stress and "unnecessary" testing. REALLY? That's interesting because my self-exam saved my life! Did it cause me stress? Yes, perhaps, but very justified stress, not undue in any way, shape or form. If they disagree, they can talk to my surgeons, my radiologist, or my oncologist. Or they can talk to me.... But they might want to wear a helmet so I doesn't hurt when I smack them upside the head!
How could an insurance company know the difference between two of my best friends (who had benign lumps), and me? Hmm, let's see, I have no family history, am relatively healthy, had a 5% chance of getting this according to computer models. I am certain that if I listened to these idiots, I'd be on my way to death. So for those idiots who are "so smart" they have this brilliant study that tells them self-exams are not worth the mental stress of worrying about a lump, I say, "Screw you! Would you have paid for my funeral if I DIDN'T do self-exams? Would you have helped my husband raise my child? Would you have loved my family while I was gone? Would you have taken long walks on the boards with my husband in my absence? Would you have put my son through college and cheered with pride when he graduates? Would you meet up with my friends for a drink of wine and some girl chat? Would you have comforted my family and said that the mental stress of worrying if the lump was malignant or not wasn't worth it?"
Another interesting point, they won't test you to see if you are BRCA mutation positive until after you are diagnosed with cancer. Um, perhaps it would help people with preventative care (and maybe even save money - gasp) if they knew they had the genetic predisposition to the gene. But I digress.
As my grandfather used to say, "they're so smart that they're stupid!" I say they are a bunch of crack heads... But what do I know? I'm just the one who figured out it was smart to get a lump checked, and by "dumb luck", I turned out to be right. Could it be that I actually know my body better than some bureaucrats? Nah, that can't be possible.
The truth is, early detection saves lives. I will be living proof of that. I don't give a damn what some study says. I am the "unusual" case. I am not as unusual as these people might think. I didn't listen to them, and I AM going to be here for many, many years to come. I will be here to raise my child with Steve. I will love my family. I will walk those boards. I will put that boy through college. I will cheer with pride when he graduates (perhaps even from Medical School. Who knows!) I will have many more ladies nights, and likely some of the chat will be how stupid the health care system can be. I will celebrate with my family that I had the guts to go get it checked out! And to the health insurance companies out there, I will beat the drum of early detection and spread the word. I really don't care if you have to pay for more mammograms! I don't care if it causes someone to be nervous. THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO BE! CANCER CAN KILL YOU IF YOU DON'T KILL IT FIRST! Why should we be so dumb as to wait for it to take more lives? So some investor gets more money from their stock holdings? Hell no! Because that very same investor could get the disease, and won't even be here to spend that extra dividend! It's not about the money people, it's about life! Remember that!