This holiday season, I’ve been hanging out with family, watching movies, eating waaay too much, and working out waaay too little. I’ve also been thinking, talking, and planning. That’s what led to this post. Though I don’t usually have a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve made a promise to myself and family that I’ll share with you: I’ve decided to get a mammogram in 2013.
Getting a mammogram has been recommended to me since I turned thirty-three because of my family history. My grandmother was diagnosed in her forties with stage four breast cancer, had a mastectomy, and lived another twenty years. Over twenty years ago, my mother was diagnosed at forty with stage three breast cancer. After radiation, chemo, and a lymphadenectomy, she is a breast cancer survivor. With my mother and grandmother having breast cancer, I have an increased risk of having breast cancer.
I’ve been putting it off for the following reasons (a.k.a. excuses): 1) I had hoped a good diet and regular exercise would be enough to keep me healthy, 2) I wanted to breastfeed my kids first, 3) I wasn’t yet forty, and therefore, had plenty of time, 4) Even if I found out I had cancer, I wouldn’t want to go through radiation and chemo, so finding out would just be a waste of time, money, and positive energy, and 5) Getting my size 36J breasts smashed and examined would hurt. Matter of fact, the treatments, if necessary, would hurt. Everything would hurt, and I like to avoid pain.
I could go on, but you know what my real problem is? I’m scared. That’s the truth. I even had a mammogram scheduled one year and called to cancel my appointment a few hours beforehand. Why am I scared? I know my family history. I know cancer kills. I know the odds. They aren’t necessarily in my favor. I also know avoiding the issue won’t change any of this, so I have to meet it head-on.
For years, my mother has given me the scoop from her personal experiences, challenges and triumphs. She’s also been encouraging me to take care of myself, which includes getting a mammogram. My husband has been doing the same, so that I would be around for years to come. Can you believe he actually wants to keep me around? Anyway–it just so happens that my whole family used this holiday to team up and express their concern. Even my younger brother got involved.
I’m thirty-eight now, and they reminded me early detection is best. Then they made me promise to get a mammogram in 2013. I promised. So that’s my New Year’s Resolution.
I have donated to several breast cancer programs annually for the past twenty years and walked in several awareness events, but 2013 will finally be the year that I take a proactive step towards making my own breast health a priority. I know this isn’t the designated month for breast cancer awareness, but it’s the end of one year and the beginning of another. And while everyone is reflecting on 2012 and planning for 2013, so am I.
In 2012, I joined a gym, got a personal trainer, lost thirty pounds and lowered my blood pressure. In 2013, I’ll continue to workout…and I’ll get a mammogram. As much as I hate going to see a doc, I’m going to put my fear aside and put my big girl panties on. Now that I’ve made this public declaration, I’m more likely to stick to it. You’ll hold me accountable, won’t you?
I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, the pictures in this post were taken in April 2011 after the Sister’s Network Inc. breast cancer awareness 5K run. I was tired. Don’t hold that against me.
Happy New Year! Make YOUR health a priority in 2013.