June 30, 2013
(I wrote this on April 16, 2013. It’s now June 30th. Clearly I’m stalling not only on getting a mammogram, but on sharing this with you all.)
Hi folks. I decided it’s time to admit to you all (and me) that I have been stalling. My last mammogram was January of 2012. It’s now fifteen months later and I still haven’t gotten another one. For the average woman, this would be just fine. But I was diagnosed with early breast cancer (DCIS – ductal carcinoma in situ) during the summer of 2011. General practice is to get six-month mammograms for a year or two after that to keep tabs on things.
I rejected that recommendation for reasons listed in a previous blog (concerns about radiation, etc.) however even I know that I’m kind of pushing the envelope here. I was going to compromise and get a mammogram at ten months. Then I pushed it back to one year. And here I still haven’t had one.
Initially I tried to get one but found it too difficult. I still don’t have health insurance and I was surprised to find that there weren’t any free or discounted mammograms available. Or at least none that I could easily find. Then I was caught up in caring for my parents, preparing for and leading a retreat, packing up and moving to Colorado, and I just didn’t feel I could put anything else on my plate.
I confess I am of two minds. There is one part of me that is worried I might have cancer again. I continue to second-guess myself about choosing not to follow the allopathic recommendations of my surgeon and the oncologists – ie, drugs and radiation. I haven’t been as pure with my diet as I should be and I have gotten lax with taking the supplements that would help me. (It’s kind of mind-boggling that I have let myself get so lax with the supplements.)
There is another part of me. This is the positive-thinking, spiritual side of me. (Some might call it a Pollyanna rose-colored glasses side.) Although I may not be perfect in the care of my physical body, I have made great strides in the care of my emotional/mental/spiritual side. I have made changes in my life that feel really good to my spirit. I’ve moved to a place that makes me happy, I am doing work that I love, I have very little stress, and I am immersed in more spiritual practices than I had been for a long time. I know of cases in which cancer has disappeared when the person began living the life they always wanted to live and making changes more in alignment with their soul path and purpose. There is a part of me that believes I am so on the right track now. Haven’t I learned the lessons of cancer and embraced a new life for myself?
However, I confess that I also worry that if I focus on cancer – ie, get a mammogram, I will be calling it to me. As I write that last sentence I kind of cringe at how dumb that sounds. Simply getting a mammogram does not exactly equate with “focusing on cancer.” I’m quite sure the average person would say, “Just get the darn mammogram so you can set your mind at ease!”
I still have reservations about mammograms. I still think they are unhealthy in many ways – not just the radiation, but the squishing of a breast that has already faced trauma multiple times. It just doesn’t feel like a very respectful or safe way to treat an already injured breast with previous cancer cells. There are some cases where a breast was so traumatized by the compression of the mammogram that it is theorized it could have potentially caused the spread of cancerous cells. See, for instance: casereports
Why doesn’t someone invent another method??? Come on now!
I realize if I get the darn mammogram and it looks clear, I don’t have to have these small niggling worries. On the other hand, if it shows a possibility of cancer again, yikes.
I’m noticing I’m reluctant to share this post with my friends. They’re going to get on my case and tell me to hop to it. I know they are.
Well, I guess it’s time to be brave and ‘fess up. I need a mammogram.