Saturday, October 18, 2008

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- Get Your Yearly Mammogram!

The colleague that I mentioned in a guest post that Hagar's Daughter was gracious enough to publish in June died this week.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

It has taken me several days to get my head together (sort-of, kind-of) about her passing. She was in her early 40s. So many Black folks are dropping like flies. So many of us never get the chance to get old, as was the norm for our parents' generation. There has been an outpouring of grief at the court building where she was last assigned. My colleague was a prosecutor. I first met her over 10 years ago while we were on opposing sides in a case. She was one of the sweetest people I've ever known. You were (temporarily-LOL!) a better person while in her presence. Somehow, you just didn't feel comfortable talking about people when she was around. Even talking about individuals who deserved it. Like the individuals who were screwing her over in her office. Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

At work, we've had numerous conversations about looking after our health after each gesture of support we've organized over the last 6 months (video messages from colleagues, a journal that we passed around and wrote letters to her in, etc.). I've heard many, many female colleagues say, "Yeah . . . I really should schedule my yearly mammogram. I haven't had one in years." As of this week (after her passing), these women STILL haven't had their mammograms, nor have they scheduled them; and they're not doing the monthly self-examinations.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

It's important to note that men can also get breast cancer. "Shaft" star Richard Roundtree survived a battle with male breast cancer. Breast cancer in men most commonly appears as a lump, like the one that Mr. Roundtree promptly had examined by a doctor. Gentlemen, pay attention to your bodies and have any mysterious changes or lumps checked out by your doctor.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.

Find out what you can do to reduce your odds of developing cancer. I'm reading a book titled "Anticancer: A New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber. I'll do a book review post after I've finished reading it.

Get your yearly mammogram and do the monthly self-exams.


Hagar's Daughter said...

Sorry about your colleague; I hope that others you work with get their mammograms in her memory.

I've scheduled mine this week. I've read that black women usually have denser breast tissue, which can make it difficult to read results using the traditional film mammography. I have a digital mammogram scheduled for Nov. The digital image is more accurate.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Hagar's Daughter,

Thank you for your kind words. I had braced myself for my colleague's passing since I first learned of her situation. So, I'm grieving, but not surprised.

As far as the other coworkers, I don't know WTH is wrong with them. I understand the fear. I'm afraid whenever I go in for my mammogram. I've accepted that I can't make anybody lift a finger to save their own lives. All I can do is encourage them to get their mammograms.

Yes, this dense tissue situation is what has caused the follow-up mammograms (and ultrasound the last time) that I've had. I'll ask about the digital mammogram the next time I talk to my doctor. Thanks for the info!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

tasha212 said...


I am sorry for your loss. I need to think about getting mammograms or at least doing monthly examinations. I'm still in my 20s and like alot of younger women, I tend not to think about it much. I guess I take stuff for granted.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Tasha!

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, it would be a good thing to think about this issue and start taking action! We all need to be vigilant about our health.

Peace, blessings and solidarity. said...

Hi there Khadija,

I am so very sorry.

I have been in mourning as well.

Thank you for telling women to get their mammograms! They also need to INSIST UPON an ultrasound because mammograms do not show everything. There are black women who DID get regular mammograms and had cancer because their "slightly abnormal" mammograms were not taken seriously.

If ANYTHING is not quite normal...demand on more tests...even if you have to appeal to your insurance company to pay for additional tests...go through the hassle and paperwork so that you are SURE!



Khadija said...

Welcome, Lisa!

Thank you for your kind words. I'm upset & grieving for my colleague. But what has had me really agitated is these other women "playing the nut role" about their own lives. Even after all of this! I've been mentally reciting the serenity prayer about this angle of the situation.

Thanks for spreading the word about getting the ultrasound. We all need to know!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.