Poster of cancer breast screening message.

My regular check-ups

Every 2 years when the BreastScreening van rolls into Taree, I make an appointment. I’ve been doing this since moving to the Manning Valley years ago. It’s such a simple thing to do, buy having a mammogram can be an uncomfortable experience. It can be painful even, having one’s breasts squashed between flat plates for x-raying. In balance, though, it’s worth it.

Several times I’ve been called back for further assessment after the van mammogram. The first callback, I freaked. I’m sure that is a totally normal reaction! On subsequent re-testing, I’ve become more stoical. I like to think this is because I’ve gotten a hold of my negative fantasies and subdued them. Maybe I’ve just become better at not going there. Is that denial?

In any case, I was down in Newcastle on Thursday at BreastScreen NSW, with my husband Daniel. I submitted to a mammogram, tomosynthesis, and, as long as I was submitting my breasts to scrutiny, ultrasound exams, too. Happily, the results showed ‘no visible sign of cancer’. I was in and out within 90 minutes.

It’s a funny thing, though. The first time I was called back, I was quaking with fear. Then, when I got the all-clear, I was elated. This time, it was like, well, okay, thanks, and maybe see you in a couple of years. My level of trepidation beforehand must have a direct relation to a celebratory mood after testing.

Why do breast screening tests?

I told an eighty year old friend that I visited the BreastScreen van every two years. She said, ‘Why do that? After age 70, you don’t have to worry about breast cancer anymore.’ Not true.

This is the true story from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which is a fantastic on-line resource.

Cancer rates begin to increase after age 40 and are highest in women over age 70. (The median age of diagnosis of breast cancer for women in the U.S. is 62.)

Some yoga practitioners I know are not too keen on doctors, Western medicine and testing. The way I see it, we all work hand-in-hand.

Yoga practice is a wonderful resource for keeping me healthy on all levels. I am grateful for having had yoga in my life for more than 45 years. I know that it’s fostered my well-being. But so have the various diagnostic tools I’ve availed myself of. And, the supportive medicos whom I’ve consulted with.

The life expectancy of a woman in Australia, as of 2016, was 82.5. And, it’s increasing. Why wouldn’t we want to have a cancer-free life if at all possible?