Yes, hold on to your breasts because they are trending high in the medical industry! I recently walked through a lovely local street festival in my area when suddenly a smiling woman jumped out from a stand waving a flyer in my face and said exuberantly”Have you had your annual mammogram yet?” Little did she know, I was already a breast cancer survivor ( read my story here) and went through my share of tests I never want to endure again. Her jumping in my face as I casually walked by was unpleasant but what really disturbed me was the “peddling” of medical tests at a community festival. Have things gone too far? Do they need to be “marketing” breasts exams at a local supposedly “fun” community festival? I realized at that very moment that my breasts were a “target” for business.
Shortly after the festival, there has been two important articles in the Press, which I feel are so important for all women to read. The first one appeared in the New York Times magazine written by journalist and breast cancer survivor Peggy Orenstein. Her article entitled ” Our Feel- Good War on Breast Cancer” has a tagline that reads “Has raising awareness become more important than saving lives?”. It is a brave and provocative article because she took on a highly charged subject that was very personal for her. If you haven’t read it yet this would be the one long article you take time to read over the holiday weekend. What is important to note is both Peggy, myself and thousands of other women were told we had non-invasive (sometimes called Stage 0) breast cancer and yet were treated with the same methods as someone with full-blown Stage 2 cancer. There is justification based on research for this but read more of Peggy’s article
for the full story on this all too common practice.
The second story on breasts followed a week later and it was Angelina Jolie’s OP ed also in the NYTimes entitled “My Medical Choice” http://nyti.ms/10ObmIv. Angela’s choice to preempt any chance of getting breast cancer by having a double mastectomy was a a highly personal and individual choice for Angelina but it also raised all kinds of questions about gene testing for “fearful”women all over the world.
Thankfully I found an article http://www.theplc.net/brca.html from a Doctor I respect (and for full disclosure I used to work for) who wrote a grounded piece entitled ” Are Your Breasts as Dangerous as Angela Jolie’s?” Dr. Fein of the Princeton Longevity Center in NJ walks you through the facts ( at least what we know thus far) and you will learn more about whether you need to run out and get a BRCA test.
I took the test because I had a strong cancer history in my immediate family but I also wanted to take it because I had doctors recommending a mastectomy for my very early stage cancer! It just didn’t make sense to me? The only way I was going to consider such a drastic measure was if I had the BRCA Gene. Well guess what? I didn’t have it! Yet if I listened to the “specialist” at the time, I would have had myself a double mastectomy with just Stage 0 cancer. This decision would have been based on fear and fear alone. There was no reason for me to be removing both my breasts at my stage of cancer. In fact now there are many who think that women with my D.C.I.S diagnosis are being over treated! So what is really happening here?
The big elephant in the room is “breasts” have become a target for money making industries. However well-intentioned some might be, the medical industry is building “business models” around your breast and banking on the possibility that one day you might have a few specs on your mammogram. So hold on to your breasts ladies–because they are wanted! This is business as usual and your breasts are trending high…
WWB Note: Always be your own guru and make medical decisions based on what is right for your bio-individuality and personal circumstance. This blog post is not meant to demonize medical professionals, rather my hope is it will give wider context and perspective to women who are bombarded with scary information ( and sometimes scare tactics) about their breasts.