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Jenny Block Headshot

Dead Moms Everywhere -- That's What Postponing Mammograms Means

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My mother would be dead. There's nothing complicated about it. She would be dead if she had not gone in to have her routine mammogram at age 45. There was no lump sizable enough to feel. No family history to listen to. Just a ring on a mammogram that made the doctor say, "Maybe we better get a closer look at that." The biopsy confirmed cancer at its earliest stages. She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatment and now my sister and I have a mother and my daughter has a grandmother. No "committee" can refute that story or it's bottom line. If it weren't for that mammogram, my mother would be dead.

What's next? "Research" that shows that only a few cigarettes a day won't kill you or just being a teeny bit abusive to your wife won't really hurt her? Or maybe that vaccinations for children really aren't all that effective in enough children to bother with. I smell money. Insurance companies wanting to save it. Government medical programs wanting to save it. Anyone who cares more about their bottom line more than human life putting common sense and humanity aside. If we can catch cancer sooner and more often, why wouldn't we? Who gets hurt if women get mammograms sooner rather than later?

Remember that Gene Hackman movie "Class Action" where the car company has decided not to fix a fatal flaw in their car's design because they've done the math and it's cheaper to settle the wrongful death cases from people who die as a result of the car's flaw then to recall all of the cars and fix them? Same premise.

Hey, early mammography costs private insurance companies and the government too much to bother with the handful of women saved as a result. How about this -- how about the mothers and daughters and sisters and wives and grandmothers and girlfriends of the committee members are the ones who die? Would these folks be willing to put their families -- or themselves -- at risk? How about we start with everyone they love as a test group to see how this "don't bother with mammograms so early thing" and see how that goes?

It has taken years for women to even be able to talk about breast cancer freely. When Susan G. Komen died in 1980, the newspaper wouldn't even print the reason for her death. It was simply not something polite society discussed. Now thousands of women walk 60 miles in three days in cities all across the country to raise money and awareness wearing t-shirts that say, "Feel up your wife. Save a Life" and "Save the Hooters," "Touch the Tatas," and "Save Second Base." We've come a long way, baby. And this nonsense will send us a zillion steps back in the wrong direction.

I walked in this year's 3-Day in Dallas. I walked with the mothers and daughters and sisters and wives and grandmothers who survived or who are surviving. I walked with the people who lost mothers and daughters and sisters and wives and grandmothers. The stories are frighteningly similar. Early detection saved her life. If only she had found out sooner, she'd be walking with us today. Mammography made it possible for my mother to be at my wedding. If there's a way to stop the suffering, why wouldn't we?

Don't listen to them. I don't care what kind of "experts" they claim to be. Don't listen to them. Listen to me. I'm an expert. I held my mother's hand as they wheeled her into the operating room. I washed her hair when she couldn't lift her arms after the surgery to do it herself. I sat by her bed and brought her silly gifts and watched and waited and worried as she fought a disease that didn't care how much I love her. My mother would be dead. Isn't that reason enough?

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