A reminder of the importance of getting a mammogram
When managing Parkinson's, don't forget other important checkups
As I sit here at 4:30 a.m. typing up this week’s column, how many of you are also up late reading Parkinson’s News Today or visiting the forums? As sleep eludes us, we chat online across different time zones and connect with others who are also managing sleep issues. Many of my columns include inspiration from these middle-of-the-night and early-morning chats.
However, this column is different. My emotions are raw. I received an abnormal mammogram, which, according to the National Cancer Institute, indicates an “abnormal breast change was found.”
While “many breast changes found on a mammogram are benign (not cancer),” the institute adds, “it’s important to get the follow-up tests advised by your doctor or nurse.”
I debated writing about this experience, but a friend and other participants of a Women’s Parkinson’s Project webinar encouraged me not to overthink it. The message is simple: Self-care and regular health checkups are essential for everyone at any age. The timing is also right, as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
What do I see?
As I wrote in a previous column, we need to stay current with our primary care physicians to monitor our overall health — not just to manage our Parkinson’s disease. Yearly checkups and adherence to care plans are crucial. Other important tasks include scheduling bloodwork and other recommended procedures, including skin cancer screenings, colonoscopies, and mammograms.
For me, it’s not just about finding the time. An emotional factor is also at play. I don’t want to learn of another ailment lurking inside my compromised body, after being diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Now, I’m trying to look at the world through the more rose-colored bifocals of a 54-year-old, post-menopausal woman with Parkinson’s. After my latest appointment, what do I see?
I see fear in a woman who needed additional imaging after her latest mammogram. I see a published author advocating for self-care by writing about important topics, including making this the year for self-care.
I see a woman hoping her six-month follow-up will confirm that the latest mammogram results are benign. I see a woman who is grateful that the likelihood of cancer at this point is very low, and who is proud of herself for taking the time every year to have these tests done.
Most importantly, I see a woman who hopes that by sharing her story, she may provide courage and comfort to others like her, so that they know they’re not alone.
What do you see? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.