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Tag: cancer

Mammograms are not scary. Everything else is.

Mammograms are not scary. Everything else is.

As a result of my family’s long history of cancer, I’m part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program. That means I’m eligible to receive mammograms and breast MRIs on a regular basis starting at an earlier age than most other women in Canada. It also means I’ve just had my first mammogram at the age of thirty-two. If you’re in your early thirties, and you’re curious about mammograms, I want to tell you that they’re not scary. They don’t even…

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Thoughts on being taken in by 23andMe

Thoughts on being taken in by 23andMe

A while ago, I paid for a personal genomic saliva kit from 23andMe, a California firm that screens saliva samples for a variety of known genetic trouble spots. Recently, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop marketing the testing kits, saying that the claims made by the marketing are not backed by science, making possible a dangerous scenario wherein false positives or negatives encourage expensive and unnecessary surgeries, treatments, or tests. Basically: 23andMe’s test might tell you that you carry the…

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Happy birthday, Mom.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Today is my mother’s birthday. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. She is a breast cancer survivor. In that spirit, I link to this post, which critiques the “narrative” surrounding breast cancer — namely, that early detection always saves lives. I suggest that everyone read it, because it highlights some interesting truths about diagnosis and treatment. Example: …mammography is an inefficient method for detecting breast cancer. It’s much better at finding the indolent cancers that would have never caused…

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On cancer

On cancer

My mother is a cancer survivor. During my third year of university, we learned that she was suffering from ductal carcinoma in-situ, a slow form of breast cancer that was undetectable by self-exam or mammogram. In her case, it took a stubborn doctor and a galactogram to diagnose her. Another family member had been diagnosed a few years earlier with another form of breast cancer. That same woman now has stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Another has leukemia. Just last week,…

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