On November 1st, my nephew’s mother-in-law died of breast cancer. She was 50 years old. She did not go to the doctor even though her lump was so large and in such a location that it was visible to the naked eye. She did not go to the doctor even though her mother and grandmother died of cancer in their early 50’s. She did not go to the doctor even though the visit would have been free. She did not go to the doctor because she was busy planning her daughter’s wedding.
Being present at her funeral was enough to persuade my mother-in-law to finally allow us to make her an appointment for a visit to the gynecologist’s office. She has not been for a check-up in 35 years. It’s sad that it has taken an event like this to finally get her to change her mind, but I am grateful for this opportunity.
I am now reading up on the new guidelines for breast cancer screenings which has changed the recommended age to start mammograms from the previous 40 to the now 50. I’m still processing the information and haven’t reached my own conclusions yet. Considering the case above, an annual mammogram starting from age 40 may have saved her life. Or it may not have. Having said that, the guidelines released by the United States Preventive Services Task Force are just that – guidelines.