Thinking of Elizabeth Edwards on mammogram day

Just a few hours after I returned home from my annual mammogram came the news that Elizabeth Edwards lost her long and courageous battle against breast cancer. A horrible coincidence but a reminder how deadly breast cancer can be.

I had already planned to write this post before I heard about Elizabeth’s death. I’m sure she isn’t the only woman to die of the disease today considering breast cancer is expected to kill 39,840 women this year but she is the most famous. May she rest in peace.

Because I’m a victim of the economy and don’t have  health insurance, I went to the Watts Clinic for today’s mammo. While sitting in the waiting room, a tough-looking and tough-talking woman came in and approached the receptionist’s desk with the grace of a bull.

“Do you still do that thing where they put your breast in a machine and squeeze it hard?” she asked.

After being told the procedure had not changed, the lady said she didn’t want a mammogram because it was too painful.

Being that I find it hard to keep my mouth shut around ignorant people, I said to her, “Cancer hurts a lot more than a mammogram.”

She gave me a who-in-the-hell-are-you look and replied, “Well, I don’t have cancer and I’m not gonna.”

“You could,” I said. “One out of seven women get breast cancer. I’ve lost friends to breast cancer. At least if you get a mammogram…”

She harrumphed as she sat down. I continued to stare at her, hoping my words and my glare would sink in. She stared back at me.

“Early detection,” she said meekly.

“Yes. It’s about early detection.”

“Do you get them every year?”

Now her bravado was gone.

“Yes,” I told her.

“A colonoscopy too?”

I told her although I’m not 50, two years ago my doctor suggested I have one so I did. Now I’m good to go for another several years. She told me she was 51, hadn’t had one and didn’t want one. I explained the prep and the procedure and told her she wouldn’t even feel anything because she’d be out.

“I don’t want anyone digging around in me and I don’t know what they’re doing,” she said, putting on her tough mask again.

I just smiled at her.

“What are they looking for? Cancer?” she asked.

Polyps, I told her, not knowing if that was correct but it’s the first thing that came to mind. By now, I could see she was relying on me and I couldn’t show any lack of education.

The technician then called my name. I stood up to leave, walked to the door and turned back to look at the lady.

“Good luck,” I told her.

“You too.”

I don’t understand women who say they don’t get mammograms because of the pain. They’re not even painful if you ask me. And if you think they are and use that as an excuse,  just compare it to radiation and chemotherapy.



Filed under economy, Health

5 responses to “Thinking of Elizabeth Edwards on mammogram day

  1. Mobetta

    Wow, such informative selection woman! So sad people can be so misinformed as well as lackadaisical about their health. Hope every woman takes the care enough to get checkups regularly! We all lost ppl to cancer and early detection is imperative to rather you survive this deadly disease. Kudos for caring enough to try to educate a person you didn’t even know! Btw didn’t know you had a blog site. 🙂

    • Hi Monique,
      Thanks for commenting. Yes, I’ve had this blog for a year or so but don’t update it as much as I should. I keep promising myself to post once a week but I am really going to try for a couple of times a week.

      Lackadaisical is the exact word, not for me but for people about their health. I had a TB test on Friday and was told to return on Monday for the reading. Although I figured it was negative, I still went in for my reading for the professionals to confirm. The medical staff thanked me for returning and said more than 80 percent of the people do not return for the reading, which takes all of two seconds and there is no wait. I don’t get it.

  2. Kelly this was good time to do this. I hope that women who have been delaying getting their yearly screenings are inspired to do it. I think all the rumors about painfulness have scared off many women, but that’s ignorance just well. Early detection has saved many women in my family, and they lived long enough to now be considered survivors.


  3. Kelly, thanks for your thoughtful post!! I’ve been so sad about Elizabeth Edwards’ passing today. Just goes to show that breast cancer is no respecter of persons — no matter how rich or well-educated or famous or knowledgeable you are, it strikes us all the same. May she rest in peace.

    But thanks for reminding ME (who pays an arm and a leg for COBRA insurance these days) that I need to find that form I got nearly one year ago and schedule my OWN mammogram. Even though I’ll probably have moved out of the country before I’m able to get an appointment, I most certainly will get it on the books. You’re so right — the minor, temporary discomfort of a mammogram can’t be ANYTHING compared to radiation, chemo and worse.


    • I hope you scheduled that mammogram Maureen! Maybe you’ll luck up and there will be an appointment available in the upcoming weeks. It’s a pity how long it sometimes takes to schedule one.

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