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A few weeks ago I went in for my mammogram.  I turn 40 in a few months, and this has been on my to-do list for my 40th since my 20s when I went through a series of surgeries.  Back then my ovaries, breast, & cervix all decided to grow unnecessary growths (bad cells, cysts, & a tumor). I've been surgery-free since 1998 though!  Still, my grandmother had breast cancer & I had that unnecessary lump (and surgery to remove it), so it's something I need to be vigilant about . . . and I THOUGHT I was. My doctor, however, gently chastized me with a "you should've started going at 36."  Still, she didn't find anything in the exam, so I expected the mammogram to be non-eventful.

I was wrong.  They called the next day, but I wasn't freaked out.  Because there was nothing in self-exam or doctor exam I though it was a mistake.  Still, better safe & all that, so I had a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound. Those revealed a tumor.

We needed to see if it was malignant. . . except that I needed not to have any meds that were blood thinners for a week before they could check. I waited 6 days, & then they harpooned me & took their samples.

. . .and then I waited 4 more days to learn the results.  

Last Monday, I learned that the tumor is NOT cancer. I'm fine. (And a week and a half AFTER the harpooning, the incision is mostly healed and the bruising is almost gone!)

So why am I telling you?  
Because they only found it because I had a mammogram. I KNOW (especially after the number of them I've had in the past 3 weeks!) that they suck. They're uncomfortable. Seriously? Round object squished into square box? Totally NOT comfortable. However, they can find things our self-exams can't. The first time I needed surgery for an alien growth was because of a doctor's exam, so yeah, they CAN be found that way.  Do your self-exams & doctor exams too. Just don't overlook the mammogram either.
Things that are related
In one of those weird timing things, I had signed the papers for life insurance the morning of my mammogram. Last year, I tackled will & estate planning paperwork. I'd had a basic will for years--the result of being married to Marine was that we both had that--but it didn't cover my book stuff.  I'd also had life insurance until 3 years ago, but that was also via Loch's job.

So here's the footnote . . . I've had all of that stuff for years because my daughter isn't mine biologically. That means that I had to put it in writing that I INTEND her to be to treated as if I were her biological mother. Motherhood isn't only biological. She & I find the term "step-mother" offensive, and we have never used it. If I'm the one who cares for her daily needs, who RAISES her, the fact that there were 9 months when she wasn't growing inside me is truly unessential data. The law isn't quite so reasonable though, so I needed to have paperwork that clarified that my children are equal even though only one has my DNA. Knowing that my kids financial needs would be met via life insurance & will made those couple weeks a lot easier. 

We all hope we don't need that stuff any time soon, & luckily, this tumor (which my son named "Howard") is benign. Still, waiting until you might need it isn't an ideal plan. 

So therein ends my sorta mothering reminders. Get your mammograms, women, and men/women, be sure your paperwork is in order BEFORE you need it bc if you run up against the possibility that you will need it, having it already squared away really does decrease the burden of things to worry about.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
Oh hell yes...we made our wills a few years back and updated them last year. Sobering thought, but necessary.

Apr. 16th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Totally agree, and I'm so glad it turned out to be benign! (And compared to childbirth, back pain, or even a small child kicking you in the chest after crawling into your bed at night, a mammogram is not as painful as its reputation makes it out to be.) I didn't know the law would regard your DNA and non-DNA children differently. That is so strange--I thought adoption meant "as if you had been born into that family." But sewing up all possible outcomes--yes. Very important.

We need to do the will thing, sigh. I don't care about my stuff (what stuff??), but I do care about where my children go if something happens to us.
Apr. 16th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
Adoption might mean that, but I've never adopted my daughter. She has a bio-mom still. Loch has full custody (thankfully!), so I'm the mother who RAISES her. :)
Apr. 16th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
Ah, that makes sense. Then yes, you definitely want it in writing!!
Apr. 16th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
I need to do all that estate planning stuff, but I feel like I don't even know where to start!
Apr. 16th, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC)
My attorney walked me through it in detail. It even included what was authorized in re correspondences, early drafts, editors notes. It's a detailed document.

In my case, I gave both of my children equal veto power. To release anything anywhere, it had to be mutually agreed. In fact most of it was "mutually agreed" so that neither of them are embarrassed by me after my death :)

I also have legal papers for my co-authored series with Kelley. Again, I expect both of us to live through the series, but best to be sure.
Apr. 16th, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
Can I ask what kind of lawyer you use? I don't really have a lawyer of my own, other than my entertainment lawyer who works primarily with film contracts. A couple of years ago, I tried to go through the process of finding one, but I didn't really know where to start.

Collaboration paperwork I understand. Contracts I get. Estate stuff makes me confuzzled.

Also, hope you had a great time at RT! I heard it was a lot of fun this year. Hope I can make it next time.

Apr. 16th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
The attorneys I used specialized in wills & estate planning. (Carrie Ryan has expertise in this area bc she was a lawyer, & she told me that's what I should look up. I did. She was right.)

I'm already starting the RT 2013 planning, and you know I'd love to have you there, so definitely let me know. I'm supposed to have my panels all set up by July (!) for next year.

We had 200+ people at the Teen Day workshops, 600+ at the Teen Day Party, & then during the week, our LOWEST number for the craft panels was 50+ It's double last year in the overall YA numbers. . . and it'll be bigger next year. Teens flew in from Alaska, CA,FL, etc. It was crazy (& I was feeling like the walking dead by Saturday night).
Apr. 16th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
SO glad everything turned out okay. We've been negligent in handling all those details, but it needs to happen.

Apr. 16th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
So HAPPY everything turned out okay, tks really much to share all this experience with us, it is so important for women to have their breasts examined on a regular basis and perform monthly breast self-exams, but some women still think that cancer "It Only Happens to Others". XOXO

Edited at 2012-04-16 07:08 pm (UTC)
Apr. 16th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
I have been good about the mammograms, not so about the wills. Thanks for the reminder.

And SO GLAD it was benign.
Apr. 16th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank goodness everything turned out alright! I'm getting my first mammy this week (just turned 40). Even though I don't have a significant other or kids, I really do need to do a will so my house, etc. doesn't end up in probate forever. Death is harder on those left behind, after all. Thanks for the reminder!
Apr. 16th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
A great and powerful reminder to everyone. Thank you, Melissa.
Apr. 17th, 2012 12:02 am (UTC)
Glad that you're alright =) I hope that you continue to be in good health for many years to come.

This is only one more reminder to start mammograms at a young age; my mother had both her breasts removed last year from breast cancer and she still has bone cancer. She had skin cancer when I was a small child, and even though I'm only 21, with that many genetic predispositions, I need to be careful. It's good to be reminded about what self exams cannot catch.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )