Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taking the Task Force to task

Question: Is it the U.S. PreventIVE Services Task Force; OR The U.S.PREVENTING SERVICES task force?
I know I said this blog was to be a bright spot, and not negative. But, I believe I also gave myself the luxury loophole of an occasional rant...well's the day.

It's been on the news lately about the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updating their guidelines for routine mammograms. They are recommending women in their 40's discuss with their Dr. whether they even want to get a mammogram, and that women 50 and over get one every two years.

They've forced my hand. I have my own task force. My task is to share my heart with you.

Our task, your to try to connect the dots
before something happens.
People say, 'Well where's the smoking gun?'
Well we don't want to see the smoking gun,
from a weapon of mass destruction.
~ Donald Rumsfeld.

The HMO that we were formerly members of, also had the every two year policy.
In 2004, I had a routine mammogram and the findings were completely normal. Two years later, I had a routine mammogram, and was in stage 3 cancer. I firmly believe that had I gone in for an annual mammogram, the tumor most likely would have been detected earlier, and my treatment plan would have been much easier.

It is easy to go down into Hell;
Night and day the gates of dark death stand wide.
But to climb back again, to retrace one's steps to the upper air-
there's the rub,
the task. ~ Virgil

I have to wonder what personal experience with cancer the members of the task force have. From a professional standpoint, according to what I've read, there are no oncologists on it.

Prior to my diagnosis, I had a very casual attitude about mammograms, and a "never happen to me" mentality. I went for mine, but was thinking, "what a waste of time, I'd rather be gardening". Within an hour and a half, my life as I knew it was turned upside down. But at least I still have a life. I so, do not want women to start taking this lightly. I can not stress enough, how important it is to get your mammograms, and to get them ANNUALLY.

My other concern is that with the new recommendations, that insurance companies may not want to shell out for annual testing. I pray that is not the case. Get your Dr. on board.

The other findings that troubled me in this study, were the poo-pooing of women's self exams.
It's important to do this as well. If I had not been such a case of la-la land, I would have found my own tumor sooner. I told myself I needed to get new bras, (the underwire was irritating it)and even convinced myself that I had strained myself pulling posts out of the ground in the garden. If you don't know the proper procedure for doing a self exam; there are instructions HERE.
Pay attention to changes in your body. You know yourself best.

The panel was concerned that women are needlessly upset and made apprehensive by these tests. The mammogram itself is not a big deal. Biopsies: not real fun, phone calls or letters stating "abnormal findings": disconcerting. But being ostriches doesn't bode well. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. The sooner it's found, the better the outcome. I would have to agree with the old adages "Better safe than sorry" and "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

A final word to the Task Force:
Always render more and better service than is expected of you,
no matter what your task may be.
~ Mandino

1 comment:

kate said...

Excellent Mom. I hope you are sneding this letter on to the powers that be; I'm sure it will join others bearing the same message. So important. Love you.


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