19 August 2008

Mast Applause

I don't know about the rest of the chicks out there, but I hold my breath then let out a soft sigh when I hear the news that someone young, healthy and glamorous announces that they have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Somehow, we just don't expect it to happen to them. Sheryl Crow was a shocker. Christina Applegate even more so. Happily, they both have beaten it and, like Melissa before them, have gone public about it.

Stunningly, Christina Applegate opted for a double mastectomy. A radical choice when so many seem to chose a lumpectomy in order to "save" their breast, and one I applaud. It's extreme, and truly brave for someone whose body was ogled for so many years, but it was an informed choice she made, having considered her family history and genetics. Imagine the courage it must take to do something like that, and then talk about it with the world so soon after it has been done. I wouldn't think she'd even have the time to fully process it or heal physically from it. But there will be lives saved because of her openness. A few more women will realize that it's about saving your life, not your boobs. Boobs are great but, in the grand scheme of things, they shouldn't cut your life short.

I also sigh for all of the women who have got it, fought it, survived it or lived with it until they succumbed to it, and for those who have or will get the diagnosis. I had a scare myself at 23. Let me tell you, that was no fun. Being a gal with dense breasts, I freak out doing a self exam because it all feels lumpy. I leave that to my gyno. Or guy-o. I will also admit, I have my mammogram on my list of things to do, but somehow it keeps getting put off. You know how it is when you are busy. Well, it's a stupid mistake that's too easy to make. Health has to come first. It's time to put it on the books. Once again, this is a reminder that early detection saves lives. Early, being both at the stage and the age. Christina is only 36. Most don't recommend testing until 40. Perhaps we should rethink that.

I applaud the ladies who speak out on this. And not just the one's who have the cameras on them, but the ones at work or the PTA meeting, knitting group, book club, or the ones you might bump into on the street or at a reunion. You may not even know you know someone who has had it (or has it). It's a private matter. So, please give them your respect and applause if they decide to share it with you.

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