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Registered letters in a mail box with cancer ribbons on the envelopes

Cancer Invincibility

I have been meaning to schedule my annual mammogram. It’s also time for a colonoscopy. This morning I put both of those tasks on my calendar to do today.

Scheduling my mammogram

Surprisingly, when I called to schedule my mammogram they had an opening that very afternoon. The procedure, 3D imaging, is 100 percent covered by insurance. Sweet!

As I headed to the imaging center, I considered the complete lack of scanxiety that I experienced. I suppose people diagnosed with breast cancer experience something similar to the scanxiety I have when I am due for a CT scan.

It’s weird, though, in a way, that I have no such trepidation about my mammogram. Nor do I feel any anxiety about my colonoscopy, which, considering my family history, also seems strange.

My family’s history with colon cancer

My brother died of colon cancer at the age of 31. Because of that, my siblings and I are considered high risk. So, I underwent my first colonoscopy while I was still in my 20s. I have continued getting colonoscopies on a regular basis throughout my life — until this year.

The doctor’s office requires an office consult before scheduling the colonoscopy. This year, a busy travel schedule resulted in me canceling my office consult appointment, then neglecting to reschedule it.

I received a certified letter from the doctor this week explaining the importance of colon cancer screening. The postage alone was $6.67 to send that letter! I was impressed with their diligence and apparent concern, even though I have never even seen this doctor. (I saw someone else in the same office, who apparently is no longer there.)

Those other lurking cancers

It’s kind of weird but — in some twisted way — I have an attitude that, hey, if lung cancer hasn’t killed me then I’m not worried about breast cancer or colon cancer.

Just because breast cancer has a 90 percent survival rate does not mean it is not deadly. Breast cancer kills. Most of us probably know someone who died from breast cancer. In the U.S., approximately 41,400 people (women and men) die from breast cancer each year. Even more — 50,000 — die from colon cancer.

I should know these facts as well as anyone.

My sister’s husband recently was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of prostate cancer. We know without a doubt that if he and his medical team had not been so diligent, his future would not be as bright as it is today.

There’s no time like now

A lung cancer diagnosis does not exempt anyone from any other cancer. In truth, our risk for developing another cancer increases after a lung cancer diagnosis.

Perhaps a better attitude for me to have toward these other cancer screenings would be to approach them as I would a test I am well prepared for and expect to ace — eagerly and with confidence. I will resist that feeling that I am invincible to cancer. I had my mammogram and scheduled my office consult appointment for my colonoscopy. I am expecting good results!

I spend much time and energy raising awareness about lung cancer screening. But to my friends who are already knowledgeable about that, may I encourage you to consider any other screenings you may be due for?

One day I hope doctors are so concerned about their patients that they even send a registered letter urging them to get screened for lung cancer. That would be awesome!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Denise Cutlip moderator
    1 year ago

    Great reminder, Dusty! I had my 6 month thoracic CT one month before my annual mammogram revealed a lesion that was later diagnosed as invasive ducal carcinoma-stage 1. Too many lung cancer patients are skipping mammograms expecting their CTs will image any breast problem. They don’t.

  • Dusty Donaldson moderator author
    1 year ago

    Wow! That’s impressive, Denise! You are right. Instead of skipping screenings for other cancers, lung cancer patients should be even more diligent because having lung cancer puts us all at an increased risk for developing another primary…as you well know from your experience! 🙂 Thanks, Denise!

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