Get Yourself Mammo-ed!
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst Singapore women and I'm sure we've all read at one time or another newspaper or women's magazine articles quoting horrendous world and national statistics on breast cancer, and maybe even bought a pink ribbon pin in support of the cause during the month of October, designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month worldwide. And yet despite all the exhortations to go for breast screening, I bet many of us have said to ourselves, "it won't happen to me" and postponed yet another mammogram appointment.
That was me for the last few years, until the day C, my very good 'makan kaki' (singlish for dining companion) and traveling companion told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Somehow, the threat of breast cancer had never seemed real until someone close to you gets it. As the 'makan kaki' gang gathered around C in support, we also became individually more anxious for our own mammary glands and I particularly started to feel extremely guilt-ridden over those missed mammograms.
Well, the guilt didn't last long as a couple of weeks later, after feeling a slight lump in my right breast, I was scheduled for my first mammogram.
Ah... yes, most of us have heard horror stories of that evil contraption that clamps our precious breasts in its vise-like grip like an instrument of torture left over from the Spanish Inquisition. Obviously designed by a man who never had his own breast clamped and flattened, my only tip to women - steel yourself and follow strictly the instructions of the technician as she tells you to hold on tight and hold your breath (which is a no-brainer since all breath ...oof... will be forced out of you once those metal plates come pressing down) - remember, if she doesn't get a good x-ray, she is likely to repeat the process and who in the world is that masochistic!
Going through an annual mammogram is a necessary evil for women who've hit their 40s, and the several seconds of pain for each breast is a small price to pay for early detection of any cancerous mass.
By the time I had surgery to remove my lump, it was 1.5 cm in diameter and I was extremely lucky that the cancer had not spread to any of my lymph nodes in the armpit or neck area - Doc Smiley commented that I must have had really sensitive fingers to have detected the lump, but methinks it was the Lord's guiding hands thru' heightened awareness after C's diagnosis! Early detection saved my lymph nodes and I'm truly thankful!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - do not let the message just float through your consciousness - if you haven't gone for any breast screening, let me encourage you to do it now and do it regularly.
For more information, you may wish to drop in at this latest website launched by KK Women's and Children's Hospital - it is definitely worth a tour on breast-cancer related concerns.