No? How about taking some of it off? We’ll get to why a little later, first I want to talk about health. Our health. Women’s health. You, me, your sister, your mom, your aunt, your best friend…and maybe someday, your daughter.
As we get older and start to own our health as adults, there are a few spectres that loom more than others. Heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, and most notably for women, breast cancer.
Why does breast cancer bring out our fear, our outrage, our anger so much more than other diseases? It’s not as though we can’t hear the warnings of heart disease in women, or that we don’t consider the threat of other types of cancer. (You may remember the last time I wrote about breast cancer…)
I think because a diagnosis of any disease, especially one as destructive as cancer, brings with it a loss of control that we so desperately want over our own lives. Suddenly what we do, how we do it and our very futures are threatened. Breast cancer goes even further, threatening our physical and traditional ideas of feminine identity. We may recognize our facial features, our hair, the curve and sway of our hips as part of our female appeal, but there is no arguing that our breasts are an important symbol of femininity. Whether we are delicately or generously endowed, they’re ours and we are often paralyzed at the thought of losing them.
There are ways, however, to bring some of that control back into our lives if we make decisions to be proactive about our health before a crisis happens. This may mean adopting a healthy lifestyle and doing things we know are good for our bodies – eating good foods, staying active and avoiding habits that might raise our risk level. It also means taking action to monitor changes in our bodies; doing self-exams, seeing our doctors for annual checkups, and taking advantage of tests like mammograms as they become appropriate. Your doctor can recommend when you should have your first mammogram, as it relates to your risk factors: health, family history, breast density and more.
If there were a way to go one step further to monitor your breast health, a way that is actually more effective for those women whose breasts are considered “dense”, would you do it? What if there were a screening tool that had a better chance of catching tumours in dense tissue, allowing earlier detection? I hadn’t heard of a breast ultrasound until I saw this amazing video of a bold, brave woman I know trying it out for herself. Yes, on video. Yes, the whole thing. You may know her as the Cocktail Deeva, creator of Boobfest, promoter of “feel your boobies” t-shirts, and living out loud expert. Well, watch for yourself as she faces her worries about her own breast health, shares her story, and takes you along for an ultrasound, partnering with VIP Breast Imaging to deliver vital information into the hands of women. Watch it, learn from it, share it – but maybe do that watching at home instead of work, and without the kiddies around….while gracefully filmed, the girls definitely got some camera time.
I’m amazed at her heart, and her willingness to face her fears and brave any awkwardness so that she can share her experience with us. After watching, I feel this would be time and money well spent for those with a higher risk of breast cancer or breast tissue too dense for a mammogram to prove completely effective. Does it cost money? Yes, it does, as it is currently offered outside the public health care system. But the amount is less than I spend on coffee in a year (at home, or out, not even combined). It’s less money than you spend colouring your hair if you do it in a salon, the equivalent of a couple of fancy dinners or few celebratory evenings spent at your favourite pub. It’s one less shirt or other clothing item picked up while shopping each month.
It’s not a decision anyone can make for you, but I think we are always better off when we have more options for information, for better care, and to feel like we are in charge of our own health. It is good for our bodies, hearts and minds to own our destinies as much as is possible. I can’t tell you if I will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer, but I’d love to tell you I had done what I could for prevention, and early detection if the diagnosis came.
Here are some details you might want to note:
~ 40% of women have what are called “dense breasts”
~ the breast ultrasound is called an Automated Breast Ultrasound – ABUS
~ VIP Breast Imaging is the only company in Canada that provides this service
~ according to their website, ABUS is safe, radiation-free, non-invasive and painless
~ no doctor referral is necessary
~ there is a cost associated with ABUS, but I was pleased to hear there is a program in place to help underprivileged women
For more information about VIP Breast Imaging, their mission, their team and to decide if ABUS might be right for you, contact:
VIP Breast Imaging Toronto
525 University Ave
Disclosure: I was asked to share this video on behalf of Cocktail Deeva, and VIP Breast Imaging in Toronto, and as a courtesy, was invited to visit VIP Breast Imaging myself. As always, you can be assured that impressions and opinions are my own.
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