The mammogram question. At my last visit to the Dr. – and I didn’t even get to see the Dr., it was the P.A. – she said she had to prescribe a mammogram for me. It was required by law or the FDA or AMA or somebody and it was her sworn duty to prescribe it. She ended by saying it was certainly my choice to get one or not. I’m sure the intent of the whole conversation was to avoid a future lawsuit on my part, which I wouldn’t do anyway. I politely declined, pointing out that I have no risk factors and that my family history leaves me more concerned with monitoring my heart health. Additionally, it’s not what I want to spend my money on right now.
The PA left me and the attending nurses came in and proceeded to get on the phone to schedule me for a mammogram. I said, “You can make the appointment if you want to, but I won’t be going in for it.”
They both looked at me as if my hair was on fire. “Why not?!” one of them said. I repeated that I had no risk factors and was more concerned with avoiding heart disease than cancer. They can test my cardiac health any way they want to, but leave my boobs alone. She made the appointment anyway and I asked for the telephone number I would need in order to cancel it. She handed it over grudgingly.
Another conversation of a similar nature took place with the receptionist.
Now I’m well aware of the choice I am making when I choose to forego the mammogram. I’ve heard the phrase “every woman over forty should get a mammogram” at least a million times.
Let me point out a few other things they said “every woman” should have:
Back in the 50s, it was thought “Every pregnant woman should be on thalidomide for depression and morning sickness.” Several months later, women started giving birth to hideously deformed children. Many of these children were abandoned and gave rise to “Thalidomide orphanages” and then it was, “Oops! Sorry, ladies. Thalidomide wasn’t such a good idea after all.”
And then there was the miracle drug Sibesterol (sp?) thought to prevent miscarriage. The only problem was that when daughters born to women who had taken Sebesterol grew up, a huge percentage of them developed cervical cancer. “Oops! Sorry, ladies.”
In the 60s, they thought “It should become routine to monitor fetal development and every pregnant woman should have an X-ray.” The consequences of this were nearly as devastating as the thalidomide debacle. “OOPS! Sorry, ladies.”
Then in the 70s, it was said, “Every young woman should be on birth control pills, not only to prevent pregnancy, but to maintain regular menstrual cycles.” Several years later, young women (by young, I mean age 30 or less) started having debilitating strokes and wound up partially paralyzed. “Oops! Sorry, ladies. Maybe not every woman should be on the Pill.”
In the 80s and 90s, “Every woman should be on Estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the form of Premarin.” Okay, do you know what Premarin is made from? It stands for PREgnant MARe unrINe. I’ve seen pregnant mare urine. I don’t want to ingest it. (And don't even get me started on the mare urine farms.) And then women on this HRT started developing tumors, cancers and heart disease. “Oops! Sorry, ladies, maybe not every woman should be on Premarin.”
And now we have the mammogram. I know of at least three women who had regular mammograms and died of breast cancer anyway. What are we? Lab rats?
And what is going to happen to my personal choice in this matter if we socialize health care?