Friday, October 03, 2008

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is a very important month for women. It is the month that Breast Cancer is pushed into the forefront. Everyone is talking about the disease that has affected over 2 million women in the United States.

But it's one month. What about the other eleven?

I don't know about you, but I pay attention in October. But life takes over and by the end of November I'm worrying about what size turkey to stuff and how many shopping days are left until Christmas.

I am ashamed to admit this. I haven't been to my gynecologist in over two years. Circumstances lead me to cancel past appointments. I am 41 years old and have not had my first mammogram yet.

I know.

I have been spared, thus far, of having this beast hit close to home. My family and I have dodged the bullet. That's not to say I will continue to be so lucky. It's sometimes a crap shoot.

Here I am, thinking of the pledge I made LAST October. I vowed to get in to see that doctor and to schedule my mammogram. I guess I'm not very good at keeping promises to myself. I am going to try again. On Monday, I.WILL.MAKE.THAT.APPOINTMENT! This time I am promising all of the brave survivors out there. I might not take myself seriously, but for you, I will do the responsible thing.

Would you like to help out Stage IV Breast Cancer Patients? Then I ask you to take a virtual walk with me and my dear friend and fellow Jersey Girl, Liz of This Full House. Visit the Gal to Gal Walk and create a walker for yourself by donating $5.00 to their cause. Search for Team "This Full House" to walk with Liz and I. Let me know in comments if you have joined us so I can add you to my walk page.

Now, go lie down and prod those ta-tas!


11 comments:

Amy said...

Great post, Breast Cancer is something we all have to be aware of and keep ourselves safe. Friendly reminders are great!!!

sam {temptingmama} said...

Excellent post! And the pink looks great!

Annie said...

MAKE the appointment!

I had my first mammo yesterday. They have found small calcification spots that can be potentially worrisome and I have to go back in six months. Trying very hard not to freak out about it - but not really succeeding. If they are worried about me in 6 months - they'll do biopsies - but this brings home to me more than ever that screening is so important.

I'm going to nag you every day til you tell me you've made that appointment! :)

Lisa said...

I'm 37 and just had my first mammo, my mom got her diagnosis in May. I have yet to do an exam, but I know I need to start. Please make the appoiment. It's pain less and quick. Please tell us when you get it done. I will promise here to do self exams monthly.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

I think they should have some great looking men lined up so we can get a squeeze that is at least enjoyable. Plus it will motivate. at least me it would.

Mrs4444 said...

I go every year with my MIL. We call it going for our "Buddygrams," and we make a day of it, including lunch and shopping. Why not get a friend to go with you?!

EE said...

My mom is a breast cancer survivor. She discovered her lump two weeks into retirement. She was in Hawaii, go figure.
I had my first mammogram a couple of years ago. I think that I kind of liked it. I'm weird like that:o

meleah rebeccah said...

"Now, go lie down and prod those ta-tas!"

just like the doctor says it!

Mrs. R said...

Love your new blog layout. My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor. So far, no one else in our family has been diagnosed with the disease, fortunately. Thanks for helping spread the word!

Liz@thisfullhouse.com said...

Ooooh, our Ta Tas look sooooo prettiful! Too bad they won't let us hold hands, or 'nothin!

Anonymous said...

In September, a large-sample, long-term Canadian study proved that an annual mammogram was no more effective in preventing deaths from breast cancer than periodic physical examinations for women in their 50s.

The study was co-authored by Cornelia Baines, a professor of public health sciences at the University of Toronto and appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In the study of almost 40,000 women ages 50 to 59, half received periodic breast examinations alone and half received breast examinations plus mammograms. All learned to examine their own breasts as well.

By 1993, 13 years after the study began, there were 610 cases of invasive breast cancer and 105 deaths in the women who received only breast examinations, compared with 622 invasive breast cancers and 107 deaths in those who received breast examinations and mammograms. "They found smaller cancers, but ultimately the mortality rate was the same, said Suzanne Fletcher, a professor of preventive medicine at Harvard Medical School. She added that cancer screening programs are built on the assumption that "finding it earlier is finding it better. . . . This study questions that assumption."

In fact, truly early detection would be better, but by the time a tumor has grown to a sufficient size to be detectable by either a mammogram or a physical examination, it has been growing for several years, and achieved more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony.

As Alternative Medicine has maintained for years, mammograms do far more harm than good. Their ionizing radiation mutates cells, and the mechanical pressure can spread cells that are already malignant (as can biopsies). In 1995 the British medical journal The Lancet reported that, since mammographic screening was introduced in 1983, the incidence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which represents 12% of all breast cancer cases, has increased by 328%, and 200% of this increase is due to the use of mammography. This increase is for all women: Since the inception of widespread mammographic screening, the increase for women under the age of 40 has gone up over 3000%.

Mammogram interpretation is often wrong. In 1996, the journal Archives of Internal Medicine published results of a test of 108 radiologists throughout the United States. The test used a set of 79 mammograms where the diagnosis had been verified by subsequent biopsies, surgeries or other follow-up. The radiologists missed cancer in 21% of the films, thought 10% of the women with no breast disease had cancer and thought 42% of benign lesions were cancerous.

Further, mammograms are not diagnostic and too frequently lead to unnecessary breast biopsies, which are an expensive, invasive surgical procedure that causes extreme anxiety, some pain and often physical harm to many women who do not have cancer.

According to the 1998 edition of the Merck Manual, for every case of breast cancer diagnosed each year, from 5 to 10 women will needlessly undergo a painful breast biopsy. Statistically, this means that any woman who has annual mammograms for 10 years has at least a 50% chance of having at least one biopsy -- even if she never develops breast cancer.

Why, then, does mainstream medicine keep recommending mammograms? Do the math: a $100 mammogram for all 62 million U.S. women over 40, and a $1,000+ biopsy for 1-to 2-million women, is an $8 billion per year industry. There is a superior alternative: advanced thermography, which does not use mechanical pressure or ionizing radiation, and which can detect signs of breast cancer years earlier than either mammography or a physical exam.

Mammography cannot detect a tumor until after it has been growing for years and reaches a certain size. Thermography is able to detect the possibility of breast cancer much earlier, because it can image the early stages of angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of a direct supply of blood to cancer cells, which is a necessary step before they can grow into tumors of size.

Thermographic breast screening is brilliantly simple. Thermography measures the radiation of infrared heat from our body and translates this information into anatomical images. Our normal blood circulation is under the control of our autonomic nervous system, which governs our body functions without our conscious will.

To screen for breast cancer, a thermographer blows cool air over a woman¹s breasts. In response, our autonomic nervous system reduces the amount of blood going to the breast, as a temperature-regulating measure. However, the pool of blood and primitive blood vessels that cancer cells create is not under autonomic control and is unaffected by the cool air. It will therefore stand out clearly on the thermographic image as a "hot spot."