The best Mother’s Day gift ever
When most of us think of our childhood, the most prominent figure during that formative time is likely our mother. There are certainly other people that influenced our upbringing, but there are many memories of being sick, injured, sad or challenging when mom was there to help us through the harder moments of life. And if your mother wasn’t the doting cheerleader, there is no debating the fact that she is the reason you are on this planet. Quite literally.
For these reasons, we celebrate Mother’s Day each May and families around the nation fill restaurants for brunch, children give macaroni necklaces as gifts and partners buy flowers for the women in their lives as a small token of appreciation for the lifetime of selfless acts that moms perform for their children – from birth, through childhood, intolerable adolescence into young adulthood. Even as fully grown humans, we still need them now and again as we make our way through our own trials of life with big decisions, vexing relationships and for advice about our own growing families.
Simply put, moms always come through for us when we need them and they graciously accept our macaroni necklaces when they deserve so much more.
The truth of the matter is, most of us don’t think about our mom’s bodies. Weird. She gave birth to us, nursed us, knows what our naked little kid booties look like, and somehow we find it a bit too strangely intimate to think about our mother’s bodies — this amazing body that grew other people (us) in her own belly.
Although they are rock stars in our lives, it’s important to remember that moms age, they get sick, they break when they fall down and they even get cancer. Perhaps it’s hard to think about this because they are always taking care of us when we break down? The fixer doesn’t need fixing, right? The cautionary advisor doesn’t need advising.
As you consider what thoughtful gift you’d like to give your mom, sister or wife this year, perhaps you might consider something a bit more unconventional, but extremely valuable: ask your mom if she is getting her routine annual mammograms done. If she’s not, tell her why it’s important to you and your family.
While great improvements have been made with medical technology in recent years, it’s rather frustrating (maddening, even) to hear about women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer and skipped their annual mammogram screenings in recent years. After all, the technology only works if a patient shows up to use it.
Breast cancer, which one in eight women will face during their life, can often be treated successfully when identified early. And yearly mammograms are the tool for the job! North Valley Hospital and The Women’s Center at The HealthCenter in Kalispell both provide 3DTM mammogram technology. This imaging technology can detect cancer long before any other symptoms develop and cancer has spread. For the women of the world, that can mean avoiding chemotherapy treatment, losing your hair, radiation of the body, major surgery to remove whole or parts of breast tissue and the uncertainty of future Mother’s Day brunches. Remember, mammograms are not scary, but cancer is.
If the health benefits aren’t enough to encourage annual mammograms, then consider the other negative impacts cancer may create for you and your family. Managing breast cancer requires many visits to the doctor, time away from family, days missed at work, skipping regular social events and maybe missing big memories like family vacations or weddings. You don’t get to plan cancer; cancer plans life for you.
The point is, skipping a mammogram just isn’t worth it. In fact, annual screenings are covered by preventive care in all or most health care insurance plans today so there is no cost to the patient to stay on track with yearly screenings. Even if the woman in your life has no insurance, Kalispell Regional Healthcare has partnered with Save a SisterTM to pay for these annual exams.
Please encourage the women in your family and circle of friends to get screened for breast and cervical cancers. Talk about your mom’s body (yea, still weird), so we can keep that mom body around to squeeze and hug for many more years. The more we talk about it, the more comfortable we become with the conversation.
Do it because you love your mom. Do it because this is the most valuable Mother’s Day gift you can give her and your entire family. Do it for her.
You can find more information online about mammograms, high-risk screening, and community support programs at krh.org/breasthealth.