If it is possible to smoosh my boobs more tightly, contort my upper body more painfully, and endure the unrealistic command to â€œrelax,â€ I cannot imagine it. Reluctantly I agreed to have a mammogram lately, and my breasts still hurt. So does my faith in our traditional medical system.
Iâ€™m one of these rebellious women who question the health benefits of having a mammogram on a regular schedule. My great-grandmother lived to the age of 100 without being zapped. My grandmother lived to almost 102 and Iâ€™m thinking she never had a mammogram. My mom, sadly, passed away at the age of 74, and yes, she had cancer. Breast cancer. Bone cancer. Maybe other cancers. Does that mean I should live in fear? Do I take the cumulative average of my female ancestors and risk living life my way? I donâ€™t have all the answers. But I DO know Iâ€™m not comfortable getting yearly mammograms.
Each year I get my blood tested to understand my hormone levels, and while Iâ€™m there get a Pap if indicated. The â€œrulesâ€ have changed for some reason, and now a Pap test is only ordered every two to three years if there have been no abnormal results in the past. I don’t understand why doctors are told to do some tests less, and other tests yearly, but I fear there is a money trail involved. Educating and treating the patient falls far down the checklist.
My doctor, who I love as a person, asked why I was making her look bad. If I refuse to get yearly mammograms it turns out she gets scored low on her productivity as a doctor. This puts her license at risk. â€œI havenâ€™t succumbed yet, but itâ€™s getting to the point where I may have to fire my noncompliant patients.â€ We held each other’s eyes and let the words soak in.
As I said, I love my doctor. Sheâ€™s a good woman. She cares about her patients. We â€œgetâ€ each other. But how does her productivity status, based on some secretive formula, equate to my need for a mammogram?
My doctor and I discussed our respective stances. We each dug in. I suggested we settle it with a cage match…best woman wins…and she was game. We laughed. But, in the end, I acquiesced because it had been three years since my last mammogram.
At that visit, circa 2011, there was a question about something on the image, and I had to retake the mammogram. Fun stuff, that. After some fretful moments while sitting alone in a cold room, I was given a clean bill of health. I thanked every living and spirit soul I could think of. So maybe, just maybe, I should know if that three-year old shadow was long gone circa 2014.
The test results came back today. I ripped open the envelope believing I was fine, and I am. I said a silent prayer of thanks once again. I thought of my mom and the brutal journey she experienced with cancer. More prayers of gratitude escaped my lips. But next year? Unless something gets wonky, no mammogram, which means I may get fired from my doctorâ€™s practice. I was talking about this to my acupuncturist and she told me she was recently â€œfiredâ€ by two–two!– of her doctors because she refused treatment inconsistent with her healthcare beliefs.
Whatever is going on in allopathic medicine, whatever doctors are being forced to do under the name of healthcare and quotas, Iâ€™m not giving up the right to be in charge of my health. That could mean Iâ€™ll be set adrift, fired, but so be it.
Do you have any stories about getting pressured or fired from your healthcare provider? How do you feel about it?