"What Grown Women DO": Breasts, Tests, and the Like.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”  Marie Curie

I will be 40 years old in just under a month. This age is definitely a milestone for me, but lately I've been thinking more about my health and what being 40 years old will mean to me. One thing however sticks out in my mind. When I turn 40, I will join the ranks of women who receive annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women who are 40 or more years of age have a mammogram and clinical breast exam annually to screen for breast cancer. As a black woman with a family history of ovarian cancer (and possibly breast cancer too), I am certainly thoughtful about these guidelines. Why? Glad you asked! Black women are often diagnosed with breast cancer at younger ages than other women. We also tend to develop more aggressive types of breast cancer, which are tough to treat.  And...we get diagnosed at later stages. What do I mean by "later stages"? That's just fancy talk to say that the cancer has grown or maybe even spread to other areas of the body...which is NOT what we want. 

Now, I have to be up front with you about this. I'm a little scared about getting a mammogram. I understand its purpose and the science behind it and all of that, but I would be lying if I let you to believe that I ain't shaking in my shoes. There, I said it...so that you don't have to! Don't worry. We will get through this together. 

Here's the thing. When we give in to this fear, it consume us. It causes us to speculate about things that may not even be an issue. Days, weeks, and months go by as we unknowingly...delay taking care of ourselves. But Ladies...FEAR is a LIAR.. It will never tell you, that detecting breast cancer early could save your life...or that millions of of women survive breast cancer every year. Fear paralyzes you, rendering you unable to choose life and health; unable to choose at all. 

But the time has come for us to face this fear, take back control of our lives, and start making good decisions about our health. It is time for us to grow up in this area; to handle our business like...dare I say it..."grown women". 

One of the steps in facing our fear of breast cancer, mammograms, and all that stuff, is learning more about the screening process. So, in the weeks prior to getting my first mammogram, I will blog about the planning, prep, and screening process (and my feelings about it all). I hope to shed some light on the process for other women and hopefully help someone move past the fear. Stay tuned!!!
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