Like many women, I have a tendency to place myself last on my “to do” list. Things like haircuts and personal upkeep get put off until it becomes a more urgent matter. Even routine health checks occasionally get left by the wayside, small things brushed off as non-important in the larger issues of managing jobs, careers, kids, and a family.
M., my OB-GYN, is not just my doctor, but a friend. A few years ago, M. lost her mother to inflammatory breast cancer, just as she was expecting her twins. Afterwards, we got to talking, including both of our habits to put our own needs last, and decided to make getting a mammogram a little more fun. For the past few years, we set up mammography appointments at the same time and go get breakfast afterwards, making it a date not only to take care of ourselves, but to spend time and make the nuisance of self-care more pleasant.
I’ve often thought this sort of thing should be more common with women. We should go together to get these tests done, and make it more of a positive and supportive experience, rather than dreading getting a test to see if we could have cancer, something that in and of itself is scary enough to induce instant avoidance. After all, almost every mom I know complains she is too busy to be sick with a common cold, much less something more serious.
This year, Brunch and Boobies is expanding. Four additional doctor friends are coming with us. These are all fantastic, smart ladies, and I can’t wait to spend time with them. So in a few weeks, on a Saturday Morning, we’re all going to get up, go down to mammography center, get screened and go out afterwards. It’s going to make our “health date” even more fun, and I can’t believe I’m actually looking forward to having a mammogram.
Sure, there’s a slight, remote chance that someone might get concerning news. Hopefully not. Even if there’s a cause for concern on anyone’s part, I can’t think of a group of women I’d rather have there to share it with, or a group I could depend on more if it happened to me.
I’m sharing this because I think it’s important that we all start to take better care of ourselves, men and women. I don’t know anyone who feels they have time to be sick, and we all know being proactive about serious stuff like cancer is incredibly important. I have a few friends now who’ve had cancer and it radically changes their lives. Brave women like Andrea Ross who have conquered breast cancer, and even shared the journey with others. One friend recently had a possible scare, and another friend’s mom is getting ready for a bilateral mastectomy. These aren’t pleasant things for anyone, and it effects not only the family of the person who’s sick, but their whole community who loves and cares for them as well.
I hope other women, other guys, will find ways to make the routine health screenings we all need as we get older more fun and less frightening. Maybe its getting a prostate exam and seeing a ball game for guys; maybe it’s planning something fun to follow the dreaded colonoscopy. Maybe its just doing it in groups, so it isn’t such a lonely, perfunctory, and potentially scary experience.
I hope Brunch and Boobies keeps growing, and that you start one with your friends. I hope hospitals and women’s health centers looks at this as a marketing opportunity- get women and their friends in, and offer discounts to a restaurant nearby afterwards- something more than a sticker that says “I was a good girl today,” like a kid going to the dentist. Screening makes us face our mortality- but doing so with friends makes the ride so much more fun and worthwhile.
Let me know what you think- what could we do to make this more popular?