Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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I'm sure by now you've heard about the U.S. Task Force's new standards for breast cancer screening. What I'm not so sure about is if any of us have been able to keep track of what's happening day to day, though. No sooner were these new recommendations made public that women and other groups, like the American Cancer Society, began to push back and question the motives and sanity behind them.
In case you missed it, the old guidelines - that women begin screening for breast cancer annually, starting at age 40 - were changed. Earlier this week, this federally-appointed task (the same ones who recommended that we get screened at age 40, by the way) changed their stance, saying that women should not start routine screening until age 50. On top of that, they also discouraged breast self-examination. Huh?
And then yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, made a statement that these new recommendations "caused a great deal of confusion and worry" and the government's policies remain "unchanged." She went on to say that women should do what they've been doing and should not worry that their insurance companies will not cover the cost of their mammograms. But what I am so very confused about (among other things) is that this very task force is appointed by guess who? Ms. Sebelius's department.
So it seems that there is just a jumble of things going on and while I shy away from getting political, it's hard to ignore that this is a piece of the puzzle (that's all I'll say on that subject).
What I'm more passionate about is this: a mammogram is what saved my life. It found my cancer when I would never suspect it would find anything but normal breast tissue. I shouldn't have had a mammogram at 34 - but I did. And I obviously do not regret it.
I'd hate for other women to be denied that, too.
For more on this subject, click on the links below:
Update on mammogram screening guidelines
Overcoming the fear of breast cancer
Questions to ask at your breast exam