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Mammograms are no fun, but they beat cancer any day
Hutchinson News ^ | 9/28/11 | Clara Kilbourn

Posted on 10/05/2011 10:48:54 AM PDT by kathsua

Zipping right along on the Unplanned Journey, October brings a reminder of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Because my cancer was diagnosed with a mammogram, I'm on the soapbox and dedicated to every woman having that test.

While some insist that it's painful, and for them it may be, it beats letting cancer get a head start. And it's quick. My advice: Think positive thoughts, breathe in, relax, exhale through the mouth. And repeat.


As for the cost of a mammogram, if you are without insurance and unable to pay for it yourself, check with the county health nurse in your county and ask for help in finding the money.

For new readers, in September 2003 I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and made my way through almost a year of chemotherapy to remission. Today, I'm cancer-free.

Moving on.

For a couple of weeks, I've thought about the message I can give to newcomers to our somewhat exclusive cancer club - an exclusive membership that no one wants, but those who make it in share the common goal of treating and surviving cancer. I can't forget hearing the diagnosis as I sat in a patient exam room at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The tears slipped down the cheeks of my youngest daughter as she held baby Anna on her lap. My husband wasn't much better. Sad news and along with that come more emotions - some people become angry, some embrace God's care, and others deny.

I listened to the doctor's words, but rather than tears, I felt a peace that all would be OK.

Beyond the shock of learning comes the determination of treatment - for me nearly a year of chemotherapy.

Stop right here.

If you lose your hair, take a picture. I didn't and now I wish I had one. Those readers who have been along on my Unplanned Journey know that my two oldest daughters went for mammograms and both were diagnosed with breast cancer. They, too, have survived.

We should have taken a profile photo of our three bald heads lined up.

Back on the road, there's nothing easy about the months of hardcore chemo that strips out the hair, saps energy and causes mouth sores ... just for starters. It takes toughness.

As the months of treatment continue, it doesn't get any easier; that means you search for comfort. I top my list of favorite comfort foods with mashed potatoes and gravy, ice cream and soup. More comfort came in those early days in listening to a piece of music I like, reading a good book, and always, watching a chick flick movie that made me laugh and transported me into another place and time.

For women, seek out the American Cancer Society's "Look good, feel better," a free lesson in makeup that includes a nice variety of cosmetics. I once wrote how I was at that session when my hair started falling out. Maybe my lowest moment.

On the good side, cancer gets the credit for bringing me into the fold of God's grace. Just this week I heard a sermon on the posture of worship and meeting our faith through the act of worship. Cancer calls for prayer without ceasing.

And now for fun, and my fun is in my family.

For the past few months I've made several trips from my home in rural Reno County to Kansas City, where doctors at the KU Medical Hospital are keeping track of my irregular heartbeat.

Each trip means an overnight stay with my daughter's family. A few weeks ago, Anna, now a third-grader, came home from school with all the paperwork for selling frozen cookie dough, wrapping paper and a few dozen other items that would fund classroom equipment (even in one of the well-to-do Johnson County school districts).

This time for me, it was cookie dough and I was targeted as the first buyer. Together, Anna and I searched the catalog. Snickerdoodle and peanut butter cookie doughs looked good and were priced in the $9 range. Because I know how to make both of those, we kept looking. On the last page, double chocolate brownies at $12 seemed the best choice. I signed my name and paid.

With five more orders on the first day she could win a stuffed toy, Anna said. As I remember, the prize was something similar to a small stuffed purple alligator.

With dinner preparations under way, her mother and I made a salad and sat on the deck while the outdoor grill wafted the sweet smell of food. Finally, with everything ready, it was mealtime, but where was Anna?

Just then she showed up, wearing an oh-so-sweet smile (grandmother speaking here), holding the filled out order blank in one hand and a roll of bills in the other.

"I get the prize," she announced.

Sure enough, Anna had circled their cul-de-sac, ringing doorbells and appealing to the neighbors. Anna was one they all knew because she over the years she made herself at home and enjoyed the tricycles and toys in every garage, as if they were her own. I'm guessing she may have a future in sales.

And once more ladies, remember October and the mammogram.

TOPICS: Health/Medicine
KEYWORDS: breastcancer; mammogram; survivor
Clara Kilbourn is a journalist and breast cancer survivor who occasionally writes about her experiences with cancer treatment. Remember this is breast cancer awareness month.
1 posted on 10/05/2011 10:48:57 AM PDT by kathsua
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To: kathsua

I hear wonderful things about thermal imaging. Of course a regular doctor won’t hear of it. Supposedly can detect spots much smaller than a mammogram and of course, none of the radiation.

2 posted on 10/05/2011 11:29:15 AM PDT by Roos_Girl (The world is full of educated derelicts. - Calvin Coolidge)
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To: Roos_Girl

My wife has been getting thermograms the last 3 years. No pain, it detects cancer YEARS before a mammogram could, and no cancer-causing radiation from the mammogram. Insurance does not cover it, and there’s only one provider in our 250k pop. city who does it. About $150-easily worth it.

3 posted on 10/05/2011 11:50:48 AM PDT by pitviper68
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To: kathsua

Congratulations, Clara, on your recovering. I, too, have just finished my first year and a new mammogram shows me cancer free. My surgeon says that he had never seen a cancer so small and so early. Very little tissue loss. I attribute it all to a mammogram. The doctor says it would never have been detected with a regular doctor-visit examination.

I take two extra strength tylenol about an hour before my mammogram. It doesn’t take all the discomfort away but it helps a bit. Hint: Can you hold your breath for five seconds? That’s about how long you’re squeezed. (At one time)

And you’re absolutely right. It beats breast cancer every time.

Hang in there!

— Jane Reinheimer

4 posted on 10/05/2011 11:52:09 AM PDT by quintr
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To: pitviper68

Fantastic! Will her regular doctor looks at the results?

At $150/year I would think most wouldn’t even meet their deductibles and I, like you, wouldn’t care if I did. I’m not quite old enough for it to be recommended that I start getting them, but soon. Probably should go ahead and do one now as a baseline. Maybe after the baby is born and I’m done breastfeeding and thing are back to “normal”. :)

5 posted on 10/05/2011 11:54:43 AM PDT by Roos_Girl (The world is full of educated derelicts. - Calvin Coolidge)
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To: kathsua; Roos_Girl
Ironic,,, my hubby just took me for mine and yes it hurts some (especially my size,, 48DD) but with all that's going on with my body it's worth a little pain. I have chronic pancreitis which literally dwindled my weight to 119 pounds (I'm 5'11”) and I just wish to stay healthy as I can for the both of us. It's my wish that our daughters (and all women) do the same and get mammograms also,,, it's worth the cost and effort. My sister lost one because she didn't and she had a very hard time dealing with it. I wish to thank my loving hubby (of 36 yrs) for encouraging me to write this to all the women on Free Republic,,, trust me,,, it's worth it.
6 posted on 10/05/2011 12:15:03 PM PDT by progunner (no compromise)
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To: kathsua

The value and wisdom of frequent breast cancer screening remains in dispute because of the risk of false positives and the expense and burden of procedures to remove what prove to be benign tumors. Moreover, it seems that even some malignant tumors are extinguished by natural processes.

7 posted on 10/05/2011 3:53:12 PM PDT by Rockingham
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