Thursday, October 23, 2008

I got an award today from my gynecologist! (Disclaimer: post for women! Men, read at your own risk...)



Today was my yearly exam with the OBGYN. I go every October around the 15th, like clockwork.

When the doctor enters the room he says his usual..."My, my my, time flies when we're talkin' about pap smears, doesn't it?" We laugh and get on with the inevitable.

After my exam today he said, "Deanna, I want to give you an award!" (I'm wondering what in the heck for...) and he puts the clipboard with my chart on the counter, flips open the pages and slaps each one as he files through, exclaiming, "2002! 2003! 2004! 2005! 2006! 2007! 2008! This is an UNBELIEVABLE record!" I said, "how so?" and he said, "in all my years I don't think I've had another patient this diligent. You are in here every single year like clock work! If I could get every woman to do that we'd have a whole lot of healthy patients..."

Then he asked why I've always been so faithful, and I said, "Doc, I have a lot of people counting on me. I'm a wife, a mother, I co-lead a church of people, and I'm a friend. I can't afford to get sick, especially for any amount of significant time. And I can't leave this world when it not really my time due to lack of diligence and leave my family behind. " I went on to tell him that every August like clockwork I also have my annual general physical, a complete blood work up, and every year I have four dentist appointments. (Two are routine and paid by my insurance, two that are not and I pay for two extra cleanings out of pocket to hopefully ward off any cavities which would be four times as much money as a cleaning to fix! Except for once last year when I was in Africa I have never missed. I intend on keeping all my teeth...for life.) He was amazed.

What's my point to this? Please, please listen to me ladies...

YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO NOT TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, FOR YOUR SAKE, AND THE SAKE OF THOSE YOU LOVE.

I wasn't always great at this, but losing several women friends to cancer has absolutely changed my life. In each case, the women had not gone regularly for checkups. One even worked in the medical field but was so busy caring for others she never got checked herself! Her physician told me personally that a simple yearly blood test would have warned them years ago that she needed help. They could have caught her cancer at stage 1 but instead by the time she started getting really sick (10 years later with no check-ups!) it was at stage 4!!! I stood numbly at the keyboard playing at her funeral just shaking my head and crying at how senseless it all was. A simple blood test, and she'd still be with us..." Why didn't she take the time?

Another friend wasn't too busy to go however she was afraid to go. With each year that passed, she felt that since she kept letting time go by, they would find something bad and so she kept waiting more months, that went into more years. By the time she finally went it wasn't for a routine exam, but because she was in pain...and yes, she was a stage 4 cancer too. A few months later, she was...gone. My friends, this DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN. And really it's kind of selfish. Because of our fear of a needle or a little discomfort with our feet in the stirrups, or someone putting our breasts in something that is like a vice grip for a few minutes, we take a chance that our family will have to say goodbye to us much earlier than God ever intended.

Many will say, "mistakes happen in the medical field. There are people who have had mammograms or paps and they didn't show anything wrong and then later they were diagnosed with cancer..." Several doctors and other medical professionals have told me that it doesn't usually happen that way if the patient goes EVERY YEAR. Even if your test is wrong ONE year the chances are definitely in your favor that they will catch it the next year. Most tests would not be wrong year after year, which means there would still be in time to treat the problem a greatly enhanced chance of success. Always go SOONER rather than LATER.

This is breast cancer awareness month and I have lots of women who tell me it's been forever since they went for a check up. Some are over 40 and have never had a mammo. I go ballistic when they say that!!! My standard line is, "I love you and want you around! I want to do life with you for a LONG TIME! So stop being crazy and get to the doctors!" Stop the excuses. C'mon ladies...it's time to "SAVE THE TATAS!" as the breast cancer awareness people say. We can make a big difference.

I just researched it and the average mammogram in the USA is $102. I hear lots of women say they don't have insurance and can't afford it. I see many of those same women with at least a few new outfits throughout the year. Here's my advice...get a mammo instead and wear your old clothes. If you are dead you can't wear your new clothes. Think about it. Get some stuff from the thrift store and choose the mammogram instead. If anyone asks you what you want for your birthday, say a mammo. I'M SERIOUS! Do it so that you'll have another birthday! I have a friend who was turned down a few years ago by her insurance company for a mammogram. They said she was two young to have them yearly and they would only pay for them every other year until she was a certain age. She was very uncomfortable with that, disagreed and paid for that year's test out of pocket. Good thing she did. Months later her surgeon told her if she hadn't gone when she did and months later had a masectomy and gone through chemo she wouldn't be alive today!!!

I'm not writing any of this to scare you but to motivate you to take care of you...you're worth it!!

I know you hate it. There aren't many that give me such discomfort as sitting in that cold room in a stiff little paper gown that never covers everything, and then assuming the "position" and hearing "scoot down further" and going through the routine. Do I like going to the radiologist every year to have my boobs completely smashed flat like a pancake, sometimes mutiple times because in the last film it didn't quite show all angles they needed clearly so they needed to do it again?" Do I like giving blood - in six or seven vials at a time every year? No. I'd rather listen to my kids' Christian screamo music for an hour where it sounds more like some guy is choking on a pretzel rather than singing. I dread getting all this done annually, however I breathe a sigh of relief after I do because each year with the clean bill of health I rest easier. I also go through the hassle of all this because I know in addition to the healing power of God and his protection over me the Bible says that the "rain falls on the just and the unjust." Bad things sometimes happen to Godly people. My prayer is that if I do happen to become ill in some way, I've taken every precaution that it will be right at the beginning stages where the doctor says...

"Deanna, we did find something...HOWEVER...due to your diligence we've gotten it at the very beginning and it's going to be a very easy process to fix and get you back to full health..."

Please, please especially in this breast cancer awareness month will you ladies please join me in being diligent in yearly physicals, and also SELF EXAMS. (When's the last time you did one of those? Again, not to make you feel guilty, but c'mon, it takes all of 2-3 minutes once a month.)

I do not say any of this to scare you but to motivate you that you're worth it! I love you my friends!

My prayer is that all of us sincerely take care, and that many lives are saved as we care for the physical house God has given us to live in while here on earth. Thank you for listening to my women's health rant. It's only because I care...really.

If you are a man and you actually had the courage to read this, please pass this post on to your wife, mother or sister and say, "I really care about you and love you and want to make sure you are doing all you can to take care of yourself so you can live life here with us as long as possible..."

3 comments:

Sharon said...

Yep. If I was faithful to getting a yearly, my ovarian cancer would have been found sooner, and I may not have had to loose all my female organs at 35.

Deanna Shrodes said...

Wow Sharon, I knew you had ovarian cancer and went through the gamut with that, but I had no idea you lost it all at 35! Oh my...thank heavens you had all your children by then...but still to go through "the change" so early. That is something else. I'm going to have to go back on your site and read your story again...

Love you...

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance said...

Academy Award Winning Actress Kathy Bates Opens Up to OCNA about her Experience with Ovarian Cancer

A few weeks ago, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) had the opportunity to sit down with Academy Award winning actress Kathy Bates to listen as she told the tale -- for the first time publicly -- of her personal fight with ovarian cancer. The interview was very personal and in-depth and shares insights about how she was diagnosed with the disease. Additionally, Ms. Bates filmed a 30-second TV Public Service Announcement (PSA) about ovarian cancer and its symptoms, which launched in NYC Taxi Cabs during September, National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and is running on TV networks nationwide.

“OCNA recognizes the personal strength it took Kathy to talk publicly about her run-in with cancer,” says Karen Orloff Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer of OCNA. “We appreciate her willingness to share her story and be an advocate for the organization in its mission to educate women across the country about ovarian cancer.”

To view the OCNA Kathy Bates 5-minute interview clip and 30-second TV PSA, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/ovariancancerorg

“As an ovarian cancer survivor, I have decided to join forces with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance by sharing my story and helping educate women about one of the deadliest cancers affecting women today.” -- Kathy Bates

Raising awareness about ovarian cancer on a national and local level is essential because diagnosing the disease is difficult. The number of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in its early stages is so small that the survival rates continue to be low. In more than 30 years since the War on Cancer was declared, ovarian cancer mortality rates have not significantly improved. About 22,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 and about 15,000 women will die from the disease.


If interested in learning more about the Kathy Bates interview and PSA or would like copies to share with your community, please contact Faryl Greller, Director of Communications & Marketing, at OCNA by phone at 202.331.1332, ext. 307 or email at fgreller@ovariancancer.org.