Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Important Question

"What kind of role model do you want to be?" my friend asked me recently.

We were discussing the free breast screening program we have in our province.  I had never had a mammogram and I was not really planning on it right now, even though I could have it done for free. My friend said she did not want something else to happen to me. She wants me to take care of myself. I was non-committal and trying to ignore her comments and then she pulled the "Mommy card" on me. 
"Linda! You have 3 young adult daughters. Do you want them to ignore their health care in the future? You are their role model, so just do it and set a good example.".

On my 50th birthday I received a letter from the government telling me I was now eligible for breast screening and what number to call. I thought it was rather an unpleasant birthday surprise. I have no family history of breast cancer or symptoms, so what is the rush?

Not long after that I wound up in an altogether different health crisis and all thought of breast screening dropped to the bottom of my priorities. The sad fact is that if I had watched the warning signs, and obtained proper, timely health care, it is possible that most of my horrible health issues could have been avoided. Now I stay on my medications, I go to my doctor to have my blood pressure checked and I work on dieting, and exercise. I show up at my therapy appointments and I do all I can to avoid ever having further brain damage or a heart attack.

 The reality is that avoiding something like breast screening for 3 years, was not a sign that I had learned from previous experience.  That was not being proactive about my health care! I dragged my guilty little self to the phone and called the clinic to book an appointment. I told my daughters what I had done and they indicated they were relieved that I had finally booked an appointment. It mattered to them, but yet we had never even discussed the subject.

Today I had my first ever mammogram. It took all of half an hour, and everything was very routine feeling and not really all that uncomfortable. They will send me, and my primary care physician, a letter in two weeks.

So who are you a role model for?

Manitoba Breast Screening Program
Health Canada Breast Cancer (Health Canada)
Breast Cancer Screening (US national Institute of Health)

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