I had put off having a mammogram for a couple of years after my initial screening at age 38 even though our insurance covers it. I had no family history of breast cancer, I was healthy, I did self exams…surely I didn’t need to worry about it. At the beginning of 2014 I made a list of things that I was going to do that year, on it was ‘Get a Mammogram Screening.’ I cut it right down to the wire, but on December 29, 2014 I went to get a mammogram done.
I took this one to the wire with two days left to spare but made a resolution that in 2014 I would get a mammogram done and so I am. A photo posted by Tammy Litke (@threedifferent) on
One of the questions on the forms I filled out was including the facility where I had previous mammograms done. I wrote down the clinic where I had it done in South Dakota, then had my mammogram screening done at the clinic here in Texas and went on with my day. A couple of days later I received a phone call from my primary care physician saying it all looked good. It was just that simple…until it wasn’t.
The imaging center here in TX did their due diligence and ordered my films from my original mammogram screening to be sent, and apparently the cells and tissue in my left breast did not look the same. So I was asked to come back to have another image taken. The assistant took the films to the radiologist and then I was told it would be best if they did a 3D image. Again the films went back to the radiologist and then they suggested I get a sonogram done.
I was completely undone. Frightened, scared, worst case scenarios running through my head.
While I currently do not have cancer or a mass, I am being monitored. I now go in every six months to have the left breast screened and a bi-lateral every 12 months. I’m thankful that the staff ordered the films from my previous mammogram, because I could have had a very different outcome on this if I had procrastinated longer getting a follow up mammogram.
I’m not unique. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women, with skin cancer being the first. About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. Approximately 231,340 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1 That’s not a statistic anyone wants to be a part of.
Early Detection is Key.
- The goal of screening exams for breast cancer is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. (so just like me!)
- The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms:4
Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years.
Breast self-exam (BSE) is also an option for women starting in their 20s.
We just finished completing our open enrollment for our health insurance through my husband’s company. In light of my new situation of breast monitoring that came up in the last year, it was a good time to review what exactly I am covered for and consider additional coverage. Breast cancer patients with employer-sponsored health insurance spend $6,553 out-of-pocket.2
- When caught early, the survival rate for breast cancer is as high as 99 percent5, but the diagnosis can be accompanied by an expensive treatment regimen. Aflac’s cash benefits can help policyholders pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with costly cancer treatments.
- A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries.
- If you or a family member does end up being diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer, you want to be able to focus on recovery not finances, and a cancer insurance policy can help you do just that.
- Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.*
Aflac isn’t just about providing insurance though – Aflac supports the cause of Breast Cancer Awareness
- For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac will be partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.
- Aflac is selling a variety of campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, with all the net proceeds going to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.
- Aflac supports the groundbreaking work of the AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. The AACR backs every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research.
- You can donate and shop for merchandise here.
The reality is, I have a reason to support the Pink Ribbon and Breast Cancer Awareness in October, and with the fact that 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point in their lives… You do too.
One day I may have a real need for the advances they are making because of the research that is being done. I may need the support that benefits breast cancer patients and their families. Because of the previous and current research my doctor is now monitoring me closely to nip in the bud any malignancy that may develop, and I may need a supplemental cancer insurance policy to help with our finances. While I don’t know if I will ever need any of those services I do know I am blessed to live in a community where this kind of health care and insurance is accessible.
If you are a woman aged 40 or older and have never had a mammogram screening, I URGE YOU to Please, Please make it a priority to schedule an appointment to have one done. Remember early detection is key.
1 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090-pdf.pdf
2 Everyday Health, “Coping With the Cost of Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.everydayhealth.com/breast-cancer/coping-with-the-cost-of-breast-cancer.aspx
4 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003165-pdf.pdf
5 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer survival rates, by stage,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-survival-by-stage
*One Day PaySM available for most properly documented, individual claims submitted online through Aflac SmartClaim® by 3 PM ET. Aflac SmartClaim® not available on the following: Disability, Life, Vision, Dental, Medicare Supplement, Long Term Care/Home Health Care, Aflac Plus Rider, Specified Disease Rider and Group policies. Aflac processes most other claims in about four days. Processing time is based on business days after all required documentation needed to render a decision is received & no further validation and/or research is required. Individual Company Statistic, 2015.
Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Worldwide Headquarters | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.