Thursday, November 8, 2007
What me worry?
What me worry?
Maybe I should, especially after the scare I had when I found a LUMP in my right breast years ago, big enough to detect while innocently soaping up in the shower. The speed with which the doctor moved to do a biopsy was fear inducing in itself.
It proved benign, but I had to get frequent mammograms at first until I was cleared for the standard once-a-year protocol. I was faithful for a while, but after my physical this spring I ignored the doctor's instructions to schedule a mammogram along with my first ever bone density test. I guess I've reached the age, or is it the stage, where osteoporosis is a concern.
I remember thinking I'd never again let so much time go by that something could grow undetected inside my body until it could be too late. Still, I never do breast self-exams, even though my doctor patiently instructs me "how to" every year. I let her tell me again, and again. She must suspect.
But here I am, six months overdue for a mammogram, maybe more. I lose track of time.
Today when I got home the voice mail message was blinking on the kitchen phone.
It was Christine from the doctor's office telling me I needed to schedule a mammogram before the end of the year. She left a number for me to call.
But I didn't call. Or haven't yet.
I suppose I will. I should, anyway.
I have this secret thought that yearly mammograms are excessive despite what JAMA says. Some doctors say every two years is fine. And even though the radiologists always tell me, as they flatten my breasts and shoot x-rays through them, that the radiation is minimal, it's cumulative.
But radiation is not why I don't rush for my mammogram. I'm really not worried about that; I don't like the idea, but I don't worry about it.
The results of a survey by an international research firm showed interesting cultural differences in what adults fear about getting older. Germans worry about failing memory, the Dutch about gaining weight, and Thais about diminishing eyesight.
People in the USA worry about all of the above, and more, including loss of energy and trouble caring for one's self.
We are a people full of fears, worries, what ifs, and statistical data. We fear greatly what is not likely. The constant stream of pharmaceutical ads makes us believe we're doomed to be doddering, mental incompetents. We're not.
That said, I will schedule my mammogram, worried or not. It's about early detection; it makes sense.
Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen. ~James Russel Lowell