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Surviving Breast Cancer Protocols

I wrote this post in my personal cancer journal shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2011.  Today - October 25, 2015 - is my four-year "Cancerversary".  Given this week's news about changing mammogram recommendations, which will put even more of the burden on women to make sure they receive appropriate breast cancer screening, I am sharing my diagnosis story more publicly in hopes it helps others help themselves  ... and listen to their body ... and get good care.   The new mammogram recommendations have stirred up a lot of confusion. To me, the message that matters most is still to stand up for yourself and your health care ... because ultimately you are your best chance of making sure you get the health care you need, regardless of screening protocols.  Now, when asked, I tell younger women:  Yes, get your mammogram as the default precaution - even though it's imperfect and even though it didn't work for me - unless you and your doctor discuss the pros and cons of delaying and you are comfortable with that decision based on your personal family history and situation.   Yes, do your self exam.  And most importantly, mammogram or not, be ready to stand up for yourself and fight for good medical care. You are welcome to share this to those who you believe will benefit.  Thanks. Protocols in health treatment can guarantee a reasonable standard of care, but they are also formidable barriers.  My cancer diagnosis was a wake-up call. Last October I called to schedule my regular mammogram.  I felt around on a self-exam (which I rarely did) before going in, and to my surprise found something - a hard round pea-sized knot up near my right armpit.  I went in to the breast center for my appointment and told them that I

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