Thursday, 14 October 2021

Breast screen

is uncomfortable and undignified. It is also a free service and something that needs to be endured. 

I am off to the two yearly screen today and I am not looking forward to it. It ranks along with the dentist in my list of things I prefer not to do.

I do it because I know it is the sensible thing to do. I am thankful that such services exist in this country. Yes, they make economic sense. Do it and catch something nasty early and there is a good chance of a complete recovery. Don't do it and the consequences could be catastrophic.

My only aunt, someone not that much older than me, has an annual screen.  Her mother, an aunt, and two sisters all lost their lives to breast cancer.  Her family has the gene which raises the likelihood from possible to probable.  Each year my aunt goes through the process and then waits for the results. It has not been easy for her.

Our good friend P, a nun, had breast cancer. She has been free of cancer for many years but she has lingering problems which need continuing care and attention. Like me she is grateful for a medical system which allows people to attend breast screening clinics at taxpayer expense.

There are many people who are eligible to go who don't go even here in the city where there is more than one screening centre. In rural areas it is not as easy but there are mobile units and, for many people, it is still possible.

In the past I have had my appointments in early September. This year they are running late because of the pandemic. I had a reminder to attend yesterday and, with it, a reminder to wear a mask.  My thought on seeing it was that I had of course planned to wear a mask. I will be coming into close contact with the stranger who takes the images. She (and it is always a woman) will be coming into close contact with people all the time. Of course she will be wearing a mask but she is still in close contact. 

It is things like that which make me feel upset by people who complain about wearing a mask in close contact settings. I am upset by people who could get vaccinated but refuse to do so. I had a brief conversation with someone yesterday. She has been going through yet another lot of chemotherapy and looks exhausted. She is in her eighties and told me, "I am not going to do this again." This time she has done it in the hope she will live long enough to see her son who is trying to come from America. But breast screen has given her another eighteen years of largely happy life. 

No, I am not looking forward to the appointment - but I am so lucky to live somewhere which allows me to make such appointments. 

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