This is a serious subject, and I have to get it off my chest, literally. I opened the newspaper today and I see "Breast Cancer Screening Revised". The article goes on to say the minimum age to begin breast cancer screening should be 50, not 40. It also suggested that doctors should stop teaching women to examine their breasts regularly. This "influential group" that made these determinations provides guidance to doctors, INSURANCE COMPANIES and policy makers.

Their reason? The recommendations are aimed at reducing harm from overtreatment and overscreening. "While many women do not think screening can be harmful, medical experts say the risks are real. A test can trigger unnecessary further tests, like biopsies, that can create extreme anxiety." OH, MY GOD! Gee, I wonder if I would be less anxious if I actually knew I was dying because I was denied a mammogram, or if I had a biopsy and discovered I had a tumor that could be treated.

"Overall, the report says, the modest (modest!!!) benefit of mammograms - reducing the breast cancer death rate by 15 percent - must be weighed against the harms." Okay, we have been reduced to a number of allowable deaths - a MODEST 15% - BECAUSE WE MIGHT BECOME "ANXIOUS"?!?! NO, IT IS BECAUSE IT IS CHEAPER TO TREAT A WOMAN DYING OF BREAST CANCER THAN IT IS TO CURE HER.

It also goes on to say that private insurers are required by law in every state except Utah to pay for mammograms for women in their 40s. Why would any state opt out of saving women's lives? No other group is systematically denied preventative health care screening in that state.

There is no allowable number, as far as I am concerned. Even if just one life is saved because of early detection, that is enough for me. Anyone who has stood by and watched someone they love die from this dreadful disease will understand how important it is to not allow these restrictions to happen right under our noses and do nothing about it. Even if you have never had personal exposure to this disease, if these restrictions are allowed to become commonplace, mark my words, you will.

I am going to end this with an e-mail I received last week from my friend Allison, whose cousin Karen is dying of breast cancer.

To my very special friends,

My cousin Karen is dying from breast cancer. She has been in and out of the hospital for the last two months and we have been very concerned. Yesterday, it took a turn for the worst and we found out it took over her liver and went to her kidneys. I am flying to NY this weekend, hoping she will recognize me.

I apologize if I have been out of touch, or maybe I have talked to you but not about how serious this was. I have been consumed with it and talking to her as much as I can every day and my family every day.

I am so thankful to have my mom here. She came on Tuesday to help me move even though she didn't want to leave Karen's side. We are moving on Friday, and flying back to NY together after that. My mom and Karen have always been my rocks.

I hope you are all well and staying healthy. Sorry for the bad news. I am very bad at talking about things like this and it's hard to have that conversation over and over again.

This hurts so much. Most of you know Karen is the closest I have to a sister and we are very tight. It's just not fair she has to leave and in such pain.

Love to you all, Allison

This is real. We need to wake up and realize that every day our access to medical care that could save our lives is slowly being stripped away. And for what reason? XX.

Comments

dancehalldoug Nov. 17, 2009 @ 9:06 a.m.

There's a Breast and Lung cancer screen being

developed that uses police dogs to smell

breath samples to find the waste chemicals

from cancer cells. (Different researchers

have shown a 86%-98% success rate with a 0%

false positive rate.) They have a sign up

list at Dogs4cancer.com

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SDaniels Nov. 17, 2009 @ 10:13 a.m.

Thanks for writing this, Ms. G! I have been told variously that one's mid to late thirties are the time to start screening, and not the time to start, and so have been too confused to initiate screening.

Re: #1: I hope you are right that this is now possible--will check it out.

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antigeekess Nov. 17, 2009 @ 10:13 p.m.

Ah, HERE is the breast cancer blog.

I worked with a terrific gal who had a double mastectomy at age 31. She had breast cancer on only one side, but her family history was so completely riddled with it that she decided to do both at the same time, reconstruct both at the same time, and be done with it.

I understand Canadian women do the preventative double mastectomy more often -- even to the point of having breasts removed and reconstructed BEFORE they get ANY cancer if they come from families where practically every woman gets it.

Perhaps it's not such a bad idea, when women so often have work of one kind or another done to their breasts anyway.

"This is real. We need to wake up and realize that every day our access to medical care that could save our lives is slowly being stripped away."

Yes, indeed. Health insurance will continue to pay for less and less, and disease and death will result. I'm sure that cost/benefit analyses have been performed that tell them that it's cheaper to disallow diagnostic tests and preventative measures, because by the time the disease has progressed to the point that it can be detected by the patient on her own, it will be too late for a lot of expensive treatment. "Nothing we can do."

It's far cheaper to let people die than to treat them.

"And for what reason? XX."

Almost. $$.

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MsGrant Nov. 17, 2009 @ 10:27 p.m.

I hate to jump on my feminist platform here, but I really do not see men's health being affected as radically as women's. Every time I open a paper, I never see "Prostate Cancer Screening Seen as Drain" or "Men Less Likely to Experience Death when Given Less Testing Due to it Being Less Stressful". Why aren't more women stepping up to the plate? We pay an ENORMOUS amount of money for health insurance. Why do we allow these fat old white haired billy-goats jurisdiction over our health care?

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David Dodd Nov. 17, 2009 @ 10:32 p.m.

"Why do we allow these fat old white haired billy-goats jurisdiction over our health care?"

Exactly. Look, not that I have any right to champion your cause, but if you invite me, I'll picket right along side. I have no right to, but you invite me and I'm there. I believe in such a cause and agree completely with the premise.

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MsGrant Nov. 17, 2009 @ 10:57 p.m.

I fight the good fight and anyone - AND I MEAN ANYONE - who is serious about joining me is welcome. You have no idea how hard it is to be what is scathingly referred to now as a "feminist". I am not some man-hater. My husband loves me. He read the articles in the rag referred to above and was outraged. His mom is a 30 year breast cancer survivor.

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antigeekess Nov. 17, 2009 @ 11:08 p.m.

Being a female and a "feminist" is almost as bad as being a human and a "humanist" in some circles.

You're absolutely right that women are obviously regarded as second-class citizens when it comes to health care. But again, the motivation for that is money. Only so much money to go around, ya know.

Anything associated with the phallus, whether it's prostate cancer or Viagra, is going to be a top priority for said fat old white-haired billy goats. They may not be chick magnets anymore, but their aging pee-pees are certainly mini money magnets.

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SDaniels Nov. 18, 2009 @ 3:44 a.m.

re: #8: Nicely done, AG ;)

re: #6:

"You have no idea how hard it is to be what is scathingly referred to now as a "feminist"."

Yes, it is difficult, Ms. G., when an attention to leveling the playing field for women is seen as man-hating militancy. It is also hard to take when people refer to a fair and socially sensible attention to language when it comes to matters of gender, sex, and race as some kind of obsessive "political correctness," as though using language that is less biased and more thoughtful is the product of some paranoid conspiracy of a "thought police." So lazy, uninformed, and bigoted. When I was still in school, I assumed the rest of the world had evolved along with us, but was sorely mistaken. You learn a lot about public opinion in blogging, but the lessons are not all that encouraging. Sometimes it's like being transported back to a prehistoric era, and observing humans with no interest in tool use ;)

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antigeekess Nov. 18, 2009 @ 7:22 a.m.

"Sometimes it's like being transported back to a prehistoric era, and observing humans with no interest in tool use ;)"

There's at least one they're interested in using.

(See #8)

;)

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MsGrant Nov. 18, 2009 @ 7:17 p.m.

Why is that? I mean, come on!! There comes a point where sex is obsolete to some. Meaning you have reached the point in your biological ability to get it on. And up. Ugh. I feel so sorry for the women who are in their sixties and are like, yeah, the old goat is defunct. One visit to the doctor, who asks discreet questions such as "how's your love life? A little lackluster? Well, I have just the thing for ya!! In he walks with a raging boner, and she is like "NOOOOOOOO! - I just joined a book club!!" Whatever. Sex is highly over rated in that context. Is that one word?

SD, we will never be able to be perceived as eloquent as long as others highjack our good intentions and interpret them as threats.

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MsGrant Nov. 21, 2009 @ 10:35 a.m.

I just got around to watching this! I am laughing my ass off!! Get the horseshoes, he would have wanted it that way!! AHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!! Just a reminder, today is the three-day breast cancer walk. They are going by my house right now. It is awesome to see so many people participate in something this important. Everyone is honking their horns and cheering and they have music on the street corner. Next year I am lacing up my skips to march for the cause. I was going to do it this year but got caught up in less important things.

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