It’s time for Mom’s annual mammogram. I made the appointment for August 9th. She asked me yesterday, “Why do I need one?” She doesn’t know if there’s any family history of breast cancer, and she can’t recall ever having had a problem herself. She asked me the same question last year. I said then, ‘all I know is that it’s strongly advised that women over 40 get mammograms.’
Today, I put the question to her doctor who answered quite thoughtfully that, at Mom’s stage of life, she doesn’t order mammograms. Why? Because if something were found, we’d be naturally inclined to do something about it. We’d want to pursue surgery and/or chemotherapy and/or radiation. The doctor doesn’t think Mom would tolerate these therapies well at all given her medical condition, and says that – at this point – the quality of Mom’s life is more important than the quantity of her life. Mom agrees. She will turn 79 in a couple of weeks.
Women in modern history have toiled with the myriad issues related to breast health. The medical community is an essential part of the process, but in the end, it is a woman’s individual choice. We are unaware of any risk factors that would cause Mom to fall victim to breast cancer. But even if we were, she has chosen to have me cancel future appointments for mammograms.