Sunday, June 6, 2010

To Mammogram or not to Mammogram?

O.K. since my last post I feel that I have reached a bit of a conclusion as to the purpose of all of this focus on the boobies. It was not at all a coincidence that I was asked to host the Breast Cancer Awareness Hotline where I was able to talk extensively to a breast surgeon who was also a cancer survivor. She reiterated the importance of regular testing for women, emphasizing that a great majority of her patients were under the age of 50. Ugh! Scary stuff. Really scary. And fear is the overall emotion whenever the "C" word is mentioned.

A few days after this TV appearance, I had my own regular yearly mammogram which resulted in additional screening by sonogram and a recommendation of biopsy for calcifications in one breast. Now, I have been a good girl and for the past year I have gone back for diagnostic mammograms for these little flecks of calcium every six months. Well, I am not convinced that this is the best route but apparently it is my job to investigate. Calcifications that show up on a mammogram can be normal to the aging process or, showing up in certain forms on the mammogram, indications of a potential cancerous growth. Unfortunately, the determination of
the intention of these little buggers (calcifications) is complicated. Following their progress through mammography at six month intervals and biopsy is the current standard of treatment from traditional medicine. Not only are "the girls" exposed to lots of radiation from all of these tests (which may or may not contribute to cancer down the road) but often, false-positive results are garnered from all of this testing which creates more anxiety, more frustration in deciding what to do about treatment, and potentially unneccessary treatment.

I was just being the good girl that I am and following doctors' orders and now I am fraught with worry, my vivid imagination running wild. I am a normally positive person. I eat well, exercise and have a really good life. I don't need to bring any of this drama into my life. So, I have to ask what does it all mean? Without meaning, any of these bumps in the road are just nuisances. My mother has never had a mammogram and, at 73, probably never will. She tends to ignore negative things in her life or wash them down with a glass of wine or two. In the past I have called her on this, but now I am seriously considering adopting her life coping strategy. Yesterday, however, she surprised me by suggesting that I get a thermagram instead of a biopsy. I may have underestimated my Mother.

While thermography seems to be a viable adjunct to traditional testing, it is poo pooed by every medical doctor that I have mentioned it to. So what's a good girl to do? I can't help but believe that the meaning of all of this in unfolding for me. Stay tuned.

Here is a study I came upon that sheds a bit of light on the current situation in our country for bc diagnosis:

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