I’m taking it all in as the reestablishing of preventative practices for breasts are being debated. I’m trying to hear underneath it all what is being said.
What’s really new here?
Several years ago the debate over the efficacy of self-breast exams hit the media on a much smaller scale; my bet is because it doesn’t involve money. Then the guidance around mammography remained unhindered. I wondered then, when this whole debate would resurface.
This new recommendation has definitely gotten folks fired up, even a client of mine who swore off cancer talk after her first battle with it in her breast is now threatening to become an activist on the issue. She found her second lump in the shower, she knew something was up and got in to see her doctor immediately.
The walls of emotion behind this issue surface in different ways.
I align with my fellow cancer compadres around the importance of having access to any and all preventative screening to catch, postpone, prolong and cure the ‘C’ word. Of course we are emotional about this change! We’ve had our lives altered and faced our own mortality because of it; and yes when a woman (or man) does a self breast exam they move their fingers with some fear and trepidation no matter what their history.
As I listened to Dr. Beavers, from MD Anderson, yesterday on NPR I kept my mind open to the ‘expert’ and took in what she had to say. What caught my attention was not her stats or that of the other doctor, but the way she described why women shouldn’t do self-breast exams. What I heard under her words is the notion of hysteria, a word birthed in the modernization of medicine (dominated by men in the early years). The notion of this word was used to discredit a woman’s ability to provide an ‘even-headed’ approach to serious medical matters. Dr. Beaver’s words, in my mind, alluded to the belief women tend to over react to what they discover on their own. The impact of their discoveries she said lead to unnecessary procedures.
Is it unnecessary if it may give someone, any one, a piece/peace of mind?
Oh wait… that’s her point we get too emotional (my words not hers) and need to be calmed down when something that seems foreign is discovered. So what if the insurance we pay thousands of dollars into every year has to actually pay for something!!!! Isn’t study after study (if you wanna use the data head approach) showing the tremendous benefits of preventative care?
Isn’t some one person’s life worth it?
Ultimately what I really believe Dr. Beaver intended to underline is how personal emotional intelligence is key (check outEmotional Intelligence). I was grateful she acknowledged our instinctual ability to know when something is happening to us. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a culture that completely values or supports this ability. In many ways we are taught to second guess ourselves and rely on authorities and experts to provide the answers (e.g. doctors, lawyers, lawmakers).
Recently, I read about Google and how they do “get it.” This Northern California based company supports individual workers in spending time to save the world through technology. Chade-Meng Tan, an employee, has brought emotional intelligence combined with mediation techniques to this company whose name is also now a verb. Tan’s course called Search Inside Yourself teaches individuals for the sake of better business practices AND to enhance inner knowledge.
Our inner ability to know is always there to be tapped and for some it feels more accessible than others. Some are scared to tap the core of this mysterious inner power. However, if we are willing to open to ourselves and explore our inner instinctual database we can harness a power that can never been taken away from us.
At the time I discovered my cancer I was so far from this place of knowing the tumor in me was undetectable and I had no insurance for preventative screenings. The two (screenings and inner knowing) are a perfect marriage for keeping ourselves healthy. If we separate ourselves from either we risk losing important knowledge and to completely divorce the two seems a hasty move when the relationship is not completely understood. I don’t know the perfect formula for this, but I do know each plays a key role in savings lives and providing a deep peace of mind.