Hi – I’m Melinda. I received a reminder this week that it’s time for my annual mammogram, and for the first time was struck by the importance of that notice.
In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended sweeping changes in its breast cancer screening guidelines, including changing age recommendations for mammograms to women ages 50-74 and completely dismissing self-exams. How completely out of touch these people are! For years I’d receive my reminder, go to my appointment and get my mammogram (paid for by my insurance company), complain about having my breasts squished in inhumane ways, and think of it simply as an “inconvenience.”
And then... one of my dear friends – let’s call her Mary – was diagnosed with breast cancer after she found a lump in a self-exam. She bravely soldiered through a double mastectomy, treatments, loss of her hair, loss of her quality of life, reconstructive surgery – and in just over a year was on the road to life as a cancer survivor. I thought it was unfortunate, a bummer, and certainly an “inconvenience,” but the fact was that Mary had breast cancer and it was treatable.
And then... her cancer came back! It was in her lungs, liver, bones! She was so sick that we thought we were going to lose her in a matter of weeks! Mary is fighting HARD right now – undergoing very aggressive treatments for weeks on end without a break.
And then... I realized how out of touch with reality I’d been. Breast cancer is more than an “inconvenience!"
And then... I heard about the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a noble endeavor I can undertake in support of my precious, sick friend. I have to fundraise $1,800 to even have the privilege of walking nearly 40 freaking miles! What hassle, what an “inconvenience.”
And then... through research I learned that nearly half of the breast cancer cases in NC are women ages 45-64. The projected number of new cases in Mecklenburg County this year alone is 788. Those are my peeps... that could be me! But we never think it will happen to us, do we?
And then... I learned that 36% of all cases and 42% of the deaths are women between the ages of 65-84 years old. Huh? My mom is still at serious risk? I thought you were pretty much out of the woods by 75 (don't tell her I gave her real age, because I'm sure she’s planning to lie about it for years to come).
And then... this week a report was published that told us “the advanced breast cancer rate is up 186% in young women 25-39.” What?? That's my daughter, my god daughter, all their cute friends!!
And then… I committed to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I'm a busy woman, fortunate to have an active family life, a very busy career and a fun social life! Time is my most precious commodity and the one thing I just don't have enough of. But I can tell you that I will find the time for this! I will happily be “inconvenienced” to raise $1,800, to train and to walk nearly 40 miles on Oct 25-26th. I will walk with my 24-year-old daughter and my (75-year-old) mom, and all the pals I can “inconvenience” to join me!
We’re doing it for those that we love and those that we don't even know. We’re doing it to help support uninsured women so that they can be “inconvenienced” and get their mammograms. We are doing it for those who, like Mary, have breast cancer and have to be so strong and brave!
Breast cancer is not simply an “inconvenience.” It’s scary stuff! IT IS NOT FOR SISSIES!
And NOW... I'd like to “inconvenience” you a bit... please visit www.avonwalk.org and activate! Make a donation to our team’s goal at Avon Walk Team 9/64, start your own team or register to walk on your own! Do it for those who are being “inconvenienced” by breast cancer. Do it for those who don't have the option to be a sissy. The more of us who walk, the more of us survive.
Visit www.avonwalk.org for more information.