Recently, my good friend Amanda was inspired by her sister-in-law’s recent diagnosis with cancer diagnosis to get screened herself. Here, she shares her story:
I once again find myself laying flat on my back, staring at the ceiling with my naked legs spread wide with some man I just met 10 minutes ago between them. Now, get your mind out of the gutter, it is definitely not what you are thinking: It is time once again for my annual physical, and as I go to a health clinic, I always seem to get a different doctor.
This time is different for me, though. My sister-in-law was just diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, and will begin chemotherapy and radiation treatment within the month. What two different doctors diagnosed as hemorrhoids was in actuality skin cancer, and any type of surgery will result in the use of a colostomy bag for the rest of her life. Did I mention that she is only 46? Did I mention that she just had a colonoscopy 6 months ago, and she left the procedure with a clean bill of health? Did I tell you that they told her there was an 80% chance that the lesion was benign, but ended up being cancerous?
Her story is replete with the normal doctor visits, the correct diagnostic tests, and several missed diagnoses. Thankfully, the cancer has not spread, and the doctors are very optimistic about a good chemotherapeutic response. Not everyone is that lucky.
So that leaves me flat on my back, literally. I have never met anyone who actually enjoys getting an OB/GYN exam, or runs out of the room yelling, “That was awesome – let’s do it again!!!!” But the vaginal exam is just one of the things women have to do in the name of good health.
My advice to women everywhere is to get your annual physical. Tell your doctor if you are having pain or swelling in any area in your body. Make the doctor take your suspicions and concerns seriously – no one knows your body better than you do, and you can always tell when something with your body is just not right. Finally, don’t put off seeing a doctor, just because you are afraid of what you might hear. If it does happen to be cancer, early detection is your best bet.
Over 90% of all cancer deaths are associated with metastasis – don’t become another statistic. So let the women all over the country band together, get naked, and get on our backs! Preferably in a doctor’s office, but you make your own decision on that front – who am I to judge?