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I am fortunate to have Cheryl Norman as my guest blogger this week. Cheryl bills herself as a writer of Romantic Fiction, but there is plenty of mystery and action in her novels.
This month is a particularly good time to feature Cheryl's views on breast cancer and her new novel, REBUILD MY WORLD.
Getting the Picture on Breast Cancer
By Cheryl Norman
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. As a breast cancer survivor, I do my part to encourage women to take responsibility for their health.
By now you know the drill. Eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, get an annual mammogram, and perform monthly BSEs (Breast Self-Examinations). Mammograms can save lives. The recommended age for one’s baseline mammy was 40 when I had my first. Later it was raised to 50. Now there’s talk of lowering the age to 30. My dear friend Bobbie was just 38 years old when she died from breast cancer. Brenda’s sister was 32. Waiting until 40 to start mammography didn’t help either woman. Would earlier mammograms have mattered?
But I caution you about mammograms. They aren’t enough. Three years ago, I had my annual mammogram and it was clean. I was dismissed with a “see you next year.” But my high school health instructor instilled in us impressionable teenage girls the need to monitor our bodies. Monthly BSEs familiarized us with what felt normal so we’d know when something didn’t. Fortunately, I took her advice to heart and made monthly BSEs a habit.
Two months after my clean mammogram, I found a suspicious lump during my routine monthly BSE. I had a biopsy and immediate surgery for what turned out to be a fast-growing form of breast cancer. I shudder to think how things would’ve turned out if I had waited ten months for the next mammogram. Now I’m 3½ years without a recurrence. My oncologists told me I was a smart woman not to depend solely on mammography.
In my romantic suspense novel REBUILD MY WORLD, the hero’s mother ignores symptoms until it’s too late. By the time she’s diagnosed with cancer, she’s waited too long. Fear, inconvenience, family responsibilities, and any number of factors cause women to postpone screenings and doctor appointments. You’ll hear arguments that women don’t receive the same level of medical attention as men. That’s no excuse. Make noise. Be heard!
Bottom Line: Take responsibility for your health, and I’m not just addressing women. Men get cancer, too, even breast cancer. If something isn’t normal or just seems “off,” visit your doctor and have it checked. If you aren’t satisfied with your doctor’s level of attention, change doctors. Delay in treatment can mean the difference in life and death. Truly. I’m not being dramatic.
And if you do have cancer, don’t despair. There are many of us survivors around to support and encourage you. Get treatment immediately. The earlier cancer is detected, the better your chances of beating it.
As for my hero’s mother in REBUILD MY WORLD, well. . .she has other reasons for not seeking treatment. She’s harboring a thirty-year old secret that threatens the happiness of her son and the woman he loves. If you like murder mysteries, romance, and complex family drama, give REBUILD MY WORLD a read. It’s available in both print and e-book versions. Visit cherylnorman.com for more information.
You can learn more about Cheryl's writing by clicking / tapping on her new book.