By Dr. Janet Seabrook
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I penned the column below a year ago, and its contents are still relevant! I ask that you read it once more, but this time, commit to action once you’re done. Special thanks to everyone who supported Community HealthNet’s 20th Annual Breast Cancer Walk. Funds raised will go toward supporting programs designed to deliver health services to low-income families and individuals throughout Northwest Indiana. Now, on to the facts about mammograms!
It’s a time when thousands of women flock to their physicians for their annual breast exams and mammograms. But what about when October ends? The advertising and awareness events stop, and there are still thousands of women who are fearful of knowing the true health of their breasts. So many simply say, “I don’t want to know!” What do we say to them in order for them to take that next step in caring for their bodies?
A diagnosis of any disease can be an emotional and scary revelation. Thankfully, there are year-round resources and solutions that serve as possible remedies to rid the apprehension of getting a mammogram:
Reach out to women who have had mammogram exams and ask them about their experience. Their testimonials can paint a clearer, honest picture of what the mammogram procedure entails without all of the medical terminology, which is often easy to misunderstand.
Take someone whom you trust to your mammogram appointment and who can serve as a source of comfort during the process.
Treat yourself after the exam. Go to lunch/dinner with friends or schedule a spa appointment. A relaxing environment will allow an opportunity to reflect on the experience with less anxiety, coupled with a support system of people who are genuinely concerned about your mental and physical well-being.
Make arrangements to have a family member or friend be with you to receive your mammogram results. Good news or bad, it’s always better to have someone by your side for emotional back-up.
Enact a medical treatment plan. If breast cancer is detected, immediately consult with your care providers on next steps. Depending on the stage and aggression of the cancer, decisions will need to be made for your health and for the sake of those who love and care about you.
To know or not to know is clearly your choice, but your decision often affects more people than you’ll ever realize. A fighting chance is better than no chance at all.
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