Three Reasons I Think My Head Will Explode

Thu, November 19, 2009

Changing the World

exploding headI usually do a good job of sticking to one topic in any given post.  But there is so much going on at the moment, I feel like my head will explode:

1. My very new friend Anissa, whom I’ve admired from a afar in the blogosphere for some time, had a stroke this week.  She’s 35.  And has a husband and three kids.  And loads of friends who are praying for her.  I can’t get my head around this one.  How is this even possible?  If you want to see if there’s a little something you can do to help her family, you can take a look here.

2. Other things I can’t grasp?  Now we’re not supposed to get mammograms until we’re 50, so all the 49 and under crowd can just wish and keep their fingers crossed that they’ll be lucky and won’t get breast cancer until they’re older?

Tell that to my friend Susan.  Or my friend Debbie. Or my late friend Marjorie.  Or Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Or countless other women we’ve known under the age of 50 with no family history or risk factors who saved their lives by getting screening mammograms.

I have no problem with medical experts revising their opinions based on medicine and science about what works and what doesn’t, but the timing of this report seems awfully suspect, as we’re debating other health care for women, including abortions and contraceptives (yeah, they want to prevent federal funding for that in health care reform, too), as well as care for women who have been victims of domestic violence. I understand from a wonky friend that the way the current health care bill is written, the insurers under the legislation will only be required to pay for things that are ranked “A” or “B” by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The USPSTF has now given screening mammograms for women 49 and under a “C” rating.  You do the math.

Already half a million women a year die from breast cancer.  How many more will now not know  they’re a ticking time bomb because insurance companies might not be required to pay for screenings because of this new recommendation?

3. And speaking of bombs, don’t even get me started on hungry children.  Seriously, we’re spending almost $900 billion on two wars this year, but we don’t have enough to feed 13  million hungry Americans, over four million of whom are children?

When I clean up the mess from my head explosion, I’ll try to gather my thoughts a little more eloquently.

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8 Responses to “Three Reasons I Think My Head Will Explode”

  1. Velma Says:

    Me, too. I feel like rolling down the car windows and screaming, “FUCK YOU, universe!” – except there is always a kid with me so I can’t do it. But I’m *thinking* it.

  2. Gina Chen Says:

    I’m really troubled by this new mammogram thing — I’m 42, so I’ve been getting my yearly for 2 years now … will. I’d like to continue doing so .. will my insurance balk? Maybe? I don’t know.

    I have no family history of breast cancer, but as you point out, that doesn’t matter. Plus, my doc was adamant that I start mammos at 40. Shouldn’t what my doc thinks matter most?

  3. annie Says:

    I have been keeping up with the update’s on Anissa via your FB feed. It is hard to wrap the mind around life-threatening events that shouldn’t happen to people so young.

    With the health care issue still in play down your way, I can see where the mammogram recommendations would cause suspicion and alarm, but the findings aren’t new. I have been reading about cancer screens in general and the new findings about them for most of this year. You should check out Devra Davis’s book on the subject of cancer research and organizations. It’s not a new title, but it is an eye opening read. What was most interesting is the data that points to evidence that breast cancer may have environmental triggers, so women who live in highly industrialized areas are at higher risk regardless of their genetic risk. That was something we thought about when my husband’s company offered him a transfer to Houston. The Gulf Coast and the northeast are danger zones for women where breast cancer is concerned.

    I had already decided to forgo screening until 50. That’s the WHO recommendation and I think it is a sound one, but this is a chance for women to read, talk to their doctors and decide for themselves. I don’t think insurance companies will weasel out of coverage. Breast cancer is one of the “lucky” illnesses in that it is extremely high profile and insurance companies are well aware of this. They may be money grubbing pricks, but they aren’t going to deliberately foster the image. That would be bad business.

  4. Daisy Says:

    My mother had breast cancer, so I get a mammo annually – and I won’t hit the magic 5-0 mark for another two years. This new “recommendation” concerns me deeply.

  5. Emily Says:

    Daisy – if your mother had breast cancer then you would be considered high risk and of course you would be getting mammograms. Apparently breast tissue below the age of 50 is hard to read which is why they have this recommendation. And actually I was at a seminar on Tuesday where I was at the same lunch table as the head of the NIH Library. She said that a Technical Expert Panel at NIH had come to the same recommendations 10 years ago but because of pressure from advocacy groups it got squashed.

    The point is not to radiate yourself unnecessarily and the rate of false readings is so high.

  6. Amanda Says:

    My heart aches and my mind boggles at the list.

  7. Stimey Says:

    1. Oh, I know. :(

    2. Seriously. Right?

    3. Appalling.



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