This is going to be my last post in a while as today I am off to a little cocktail party - and I SO know what I am like with cocktails. Sex on the beach ... Pina colada ... Rum swizzle ... love them all but more than one and I am off colour for a few days. So, before I lie low for a bit, I am going to take this opportunity to get on my soap box.
I've got a toot on ... and you what I am like when I have toot on. I get so annoyed. So het up that I might write a letter of complaint. Oh God, did I really say that. Am I going to turn in to one of those people with so much time on their hands, that I start incorporating writing letters of complaint as part of my daily life ... Perhaps if I share my gripe with you then it will stop me from going down that blinkered and mindless route.
Apparently some just-published research strongly indicates that 4 out of 10 breast cancer cases could be prevented if women adopted a "healthier lifestyle". And of course the media has gone wild - cos they just love anything which they can dramatise. Especially if it effects so many people and if they can quote numbers and percentages. When I first heard it on the news I cringed. Oh great, so not only do I have to deal with breast cancer but I am now being made to feel guilty because I brought it on myself. And then I thought sod it, I am just not going to beat myself up over this. So 4 out of 10 cases might be triggered by lifestyle choices but that still means that more than 50% are not. Yep, I used to smoke, but I gave up some years ago. Yep, I eat moderate amounts of red meat, but I have spent more than half my life as a vegetarian. I like a glass of wine or two - but not every day and I very rarely drink spirits, not even cocktails. I am no gym bunny - but I live in possibly one of the most beautiful and idylic places in England - and I enjoy exploring it through walking and cycling. At the end of the day, we all know that a "healthier lifestyle" is probably better for us - it doesn't just prevent breast cancer, but any cancer, as well as heart disease, diabetes and strokes. And, on the other hand, there are people out there who are in their 80s, 90s, or even a 100 years or more, who swear they have lived that long because of a 30-a-day habit washed down with half a bottle of whisky. So I just decided to let it go... until This Morning came on.
I hate daytime TV - but I was going through my e-mails and it was on in the background. And on came This Morning. I wasn't really watching until they mentioned that "40% of breast cancer cases could be prevented" and I my ears pricked up. Eamonn and Ruth were there with Dr Chris and somebody had called in to say that they had been experiencing some tingling in their breast for a couple of months and asked if could it be breast cancer. Dr Chris responded in a rather unsensitive and matter-of-fact way: "Yes, it could possibly be breast cancer as tingling is sometimes a symptom." He then went on to say that there a number of symptoms which could be attributed to breast cancer, not necessary a distinct lump, but perhaps a burning sensation or/and changes with the nipple. And then it cut ... to Eamonn ... who then went on to ask about prickly heat. PRICKLY HEAT! I couldn't believe it.
I wanted someone to say that if there are ANY changes to your breast, and if you have ANY concerns, then you MUST see your GP. Yes, it can be scary and if it makes you feel better then take a friend along with you. But whatever you do you MUST get it checked. This woman had been experiencing this problem for two months! Although you might fear the worst you must remember that cancer will never go away, it will only progress.
I was bitterly disappointed and annoyed that This Morning didn't take the opportunity to urge what maybe 2 million watchers, probably mostly women, that if they have any concerns, worries or niggles then they need to act straightaway.
I didn't feel a lump. I woke up one day and had a funny feeling in my breast. A bit like when you are first pregnant ... but I knew that definitely wasn't the case Although I responded quite quickly, and thankfully my GP immediately referred me for tests, my tumour is still pretty significant. I look back and think "how in the hell can I have missed it?" But at least I can say that I soon I knew something wasn't right that I reacted as quickly as I could.
You see it is alright for researchers releasing statistics to say that if we do this and do that then it lessens our chances of getting breast cancer. But in reality there are very few women who were ticking along nicely, as I was even only a few weeks ago, that are going to read that media coverage and suddenly pledge that they will eat less processed foods, cut their alcohol units and take out a gym membership. Because don't we don't ever really think it is going to happen to us. So what is vital is that those who have the power and the influence to warn women about the different symptoms of breast cancer, including the media, take every opportunity to encourage women to overcome their fears so that they take the necessary steps to get it checked out.
Anyway, got to go now. I've got a cocktail bash to go to. Sadly no LBD required.