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The M Word

Kristin goes in for the dreaded mammogram.

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One recent evening, I waxed poetic to my boyfriend on why "it is most definitely a man's world."  (Dun) (Dun) (Dun)

MAMMOGRAM.

This is a rite of passage reserved for women in their early forties, but this month I had the great honor of joining the club 10 years early.  During my retelling of the great mammo escapade, my boyfriend tried to one-up me in terms of torture with his sorrowful tales of the old cup and cough that guys go through when they visit a doctor every, oh what is it, 10 years?  But all I had to say was stirrups and cold steel and he knew I had him beat.

If you haven't experienced it, those monster mammo clamps are something out of a sci-fi flick.  There's something unsettling about the mammo tech saying ever so sweetly, "Now take a deep breath, hon," while she slowly twists down and tightens the huge blocks of steel and plastic.

In the days following my mammo, I did my best to not think pink.  Pink Ladies are rad, pink ribbons not so much (but thank God the Grease skit I did with my girlfriend at a senior year pep rally was in the pre-YouTube era).  With the support of my girlfriends, I managed to stay positive.

If you haven't experienced it, those monster mammo clamps are something out of a sci-fi flick.  There's something unsettling about the mammo tech saying ever so sweetly, "Now take a deep breath, hon," while she slowly twists down and tightens the huge blocks of steel and plastic.

After pestering my doctor's office for two weeks, I finally received the report.  Do I have breast cancer?  No.  Thank God.  One of my girlfriends was certain of a positive outcome.  She couldn't fathom the thought that I could be sick yet again.

Will I get breast cancer?  I don't know.  I do know that I have additional risk factors and require a second mammo in six months.

But nothing much has changed from my life pre-mammo.  Except that now I know that just because you have one chronic illness (or two ... or three ... or four ... or five ... or six) it doesn't give you a get-out-of-jail-free card for diseases like cancer.  I can't ignore the research studies about cancer prevention because I already "have enough to worry about" or jaywalk because I already have a good idea what my cause of death might be.  And I certainly can't leave it to my doctors or the monster clamps to keep me healthy.

As Dr. Oz said on his Web site this week, "Detection does not equal prevention ... we cannot test to safety; we must live to safety."

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