President's Message - October 2017
by Lisa Denig, Esq.
So you may not want to hear this but…I am WAY past due for a mammogram.
Too much information? Maybe, but “too much information” is exactly what women need when it comes to breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and, in anticipation of that, the Westchester Women’s Bar Association and JALBCA (Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert) joined together for a lunchtime seminar on breast cancer awareness on September 12, 2017 (see Hon. Sandra A. Forster’s article in this issue for more on this event).
It was there that I learned that women who are at or below the poverty line and are less educated are less likely to receive a yearly mammogram. Mary Solomon, Director of Mobile Mammography Programs, spoke about the work her organization does to reach out to these poor and uneducated women, most of whom are uninsured, to ensure that they receive their yearly mammograms. Her mobile mammography vans will travel anywhere in the Five Boroughs to bring this service to those who need it most.
So why am I past due? I am not poor and I am not uneducated. Well, I am going to let you in on my very “lawyerly” reasoning for this, and this reasoning was (sort of!) confirmed by Dr. Alisan Goldfarb from Mt. Sinai Hospital, who also spoke at the event. Dr. Goldfarb, with a dry wit and a very engaging speaking manner, relayed the risk factors for breast cancer. Here they are:
I do not fit any of these risk factors so the conclusion, on my part, is that I will never get breast cancer. Therefore, I do not need to be vigilant about my yearly mammogram. I am a busy woman. I do not have the time to wait in a doctor’s office, go through the screenings, and wait again for the results. Goodness, I tap my toe impatiently when I have to wait three minutes to reheat my food in the microwave! Getting a mammogram is simply not at the top of my list of things to do because, for me, it is not necessary.
But wait! After expounding on the list of risk factors, Dr. Goldfarb paused and said, “But here is the greatest risk factor of all – if you have breasts, you are at risk for breast cancer.” Um…what? Me? At risk?
Because the medical community is not sure what causes breast cancer, everyone is at risk, even men. There went all my excuses. My self-righteous, “I-don’t-fit-the-mold” justification was eviscerated with this one simple risk factor that is not ordinarily listed.
Lawyers hate to admit when they are wrong. Or maybe it’s not lawyers, maybe it’s just me. But I have to admit I was wrong. I am at risk for breast cancer and the yearly mammogram is not optional. Many thanks to Mary Solomon and Dr. Alisan Goldfarb for showing me that.
And, by the way, I scheduled that mammogram as soon as I returned to my office.