- Women’s Health
- Healthy Living
- Health Conditions
- Nurse Barb
I’m reading Atul Gawande’s book Mortality and thought I’d share a story about how I care for my patients as they continue on life’s journey.
Katherine was one of my favorite patients. I met her when she was in her early 70’s and cared for her well into her 90’s. She was a breast cancer survivor and we were monitoring her bone health because she, like 1 in ?? women after menopause had developed osteoporosis. As she aged, our conversations changed. At each visit, she not only provided updates of her medical history, all of her new medications but I also heard the latest on her kids, saw the school photos of her grandkids, and best of all, listened to some of the best travel stories and advice before Trip Advisor was ever created. She and her husband took full advantage of retirement and managed 2- 3 trips each year to exotic locations I could only dream of.
I learned from caring for Katherine to live every moment. She brought in smudged black and white photos of her family smiling in their black rubber boots about to board a sea-plane in the early 60’s in the wilds of Alaska. I remember her telling me about a trip to St. Petersburg when she was 92, and how much she loved going back to visit Paris. “I love to walk wherever I go, the only thing that stops me now, is sometimes I get out of breath as I get older.”
Do you wonder if you’re at higher risk of developing breast cancer than your sister, friend or cousin? If you’re like most women, you have friends and/or family who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and you may be wondering, “Why them? What about me? Am I at high risk?
Breast Cancer is still the most common type of cancer in women. Each year approximately 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early and better detection and research that’s led to advanced treatments are all improving the outlook for women diagnosed with breast cancer, and yet many of us wonder if we’re at high risk. There are lists of risk factors, but making sense of what to do with the information is daunting.
Yearly Fearly Mammograms
I have a mammogram every year because I’m at high risk for breast cancer. As many of you know my mom had breast cancer when she was 32. I was 5 at the time and remember being cared for by relatives as she recovered.
Fortunately, she recovered after having a radical Halstead mastectomy and was free from Breast cancer for the rest of her life. I’m fairly certain that I chose nursing as a profession in small part because of the glowing way she described the nurses who cared for her. Growing up with the knowledge that there were many women in my mom’s family with breast cancer, including my own mother who found a small hard lump in the shower in her early 30’s absolutely adds to my anxiety every spring when I have my annual mammogram.
Yes, because most of us associate a heart attack or heart disease with crushing chest pain. And yet, for women, the signs of heart disease can be so mild that we ignore them.