The Annual

Nobody likes annual checkups, but everybody knows they’re important.  Especially when you get to be my age – the dire effects of aging are blasted in your face every time you open a magazine, pull up a web site, or watch a TV program.  Happily, my check up today was pretty painless in every way.  My efforts to eat better and exercise more have paid off – although we’ll have to wait a few days to see how effective the oat bran muffin/ grapefruit juice regimen has been on the ever-elevated cholesterol levels. I’ve always been pretty healthy, but now that I’ve got a grandchild on the way, I’m got a really good reason to stay in the best shape possible for as long as I can.

While I was in the doctor’s office, I happened to mention to my doctor that four of my friends were currently in various stages of treatment for breast cancer.

“It’s like an epidemic,” she said, nodding her head sympathetically.  “Three of the women in my circle – including my sister-in-law- are also in treatment. Plus” – and here she stopped for a moment – “I have two women coming in later today and I have to tell them their biopsies were positive.”

We went on to discuss some of the reasons why there seems to be so much breast cancer among women in my age group.  My doctor believes that food additives – such as the hormones in dairy and meat – are playing a big role. “Statistics tell us that breast cancer among older women is declining, probably because we’re not prescribing estrogen replacement therapy so much anymore. But younger women, in their 40’s and 50’s, have grown up eating all the processed meats and dairy, as well as all the pesticide ridden produce. I think we’re seeing the effects of that on this part of the population.”

We also talked about the way young girls seem to be physically maturing so much faster.  I know this to be true – I work in a middle school sometimes, and I’m amazed at the well developed figures on many of the 12 year old girls.   It’s thought that the hormone heavy milks and meats are partly responsible.

So lots of good reason to invest in organic products, especially dairy, meats, and produce.

Despite the good results and the good advice, I’ve still been troubled all afternoon.  I keep thinking about one of my friends, who had a mastectomy this morning. And also about those two patients who had appointments with my doctor today.  For me it was just an ordinary Monday.  For all these women, it was the beginning of a pretty horrifying new chapter in their lives.

So I’m holding them in my thoughts for the days ahead, and I know I’ll be doing everything I can so that this time next year I get another clean bill of health.

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9 thoughts on “The Annual

  1. This is a subject close to my heart. I think of my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren. My daughter-in-law is very aware and does her best to avoid harmful additives, but it’s very difficult.

    I find interesting the hypothesis that younger women, in their 40′s and 50′s, are most at risk because they have grown up eating all the processed meats and dairy, and pesticide ridden produce. It makes sense.

    I asked a 96 year-old-friend about her secret to longevity. She said she believed it was the fresh vegetables from her garden and fresh fish. I’m sure genetics and personal disposition were part of the picture, but she had a point. The vegetables from her garden untainted and the rivers were cleaner back then. It makes me wonder what it will be like in a few decades.

    • It’s hard when kids get older, too, because so much of what they eat is out of our control. I know for sure my daughter in law eats well – she’s the one that’s taught me a ton about organic products.

      I have another friend who is in medical research, and she says that someday she’s convinced we’re going to find that most cancers and disease can be traced to diet and cigarette smoke. Very interesting….

  2. Great post, Becca. Just a small anecdote. My brother-in-law’s family are dairy farmers. As a result, there is always lots of milk in my sister’s home. My one niece loves milk, and the other hates milk. The one who loves milk, drinks it at most meals, and, I hate to say it, but she is huge (not necessarily fat, just a big girl) for 14 year old. The other one who hates milk, is small for her age and quite petite. I agree that it is likely the hormones they put in milk. Glad you are doing well…

    • Very interesting, Tim. I’ve been drinking organic hormone free milk for a while now, and will continue to do so. Hopefully it’s not too late to start 🙂

  3. Well, I’m glad your check-up was a good one. That’s most important. And yes, I can so relate to the meat of this post — my mom and aunt lost it to breast cancer, one of my best friends too, and several good friends — a number still surviving — have lost the battle or live with the shadow. Cancer in general freaks me out — my dear friend who died a week ago had multiple myeloma and that was a tough one, too, because it was manageable but not treatable. I’ll keep good thoughts for your friends, Becca. And for you, too!

    • Well, you definitely have a large and unpleasant history with this disease. It’s insidious and awful -I agree.

      Take care of yourself, my friend!

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