I only wear red nail polish. My home décor is a rich palette of ruby, crimson, and wine. A fiery hue is even splashed across my website. Red evokes power and passion and I like that. In kindergarten, the other little girls delighted in adding white paint to the red paint to make pink. I preferred the red. When I grew up, I knew I wouldn’t be one of those pink ribbon chicks.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I respect and appreciate the pink ribbon for the extraordinary job it’s done to promote breast cancer awareness and support. That little symbol has raised millions of dollars and prompted countless women to schedule their mammograms. Make no mistake: the pink ribbon has saved lives. But the pink ribbon is not enough. Simply being aware and supportive won’t do. Not for the breast cancer epidemic. Not for me.
I’ll stick with my red and that Shakespeare quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “…and though she be but little, she is fierce.” I am fierce because I am dense.
When I learned that I have extremely dense breasts, I thought this was a good thing. Like they would stay perky forever. Turns out having dense breasts renders mammograms less effective. In fact, more than one radiologist has told me that looking for a tumor in my breasts is like looking for a golf ball in a blizzard.
I’m the cautionary tale and this is my public service announcement.
Several years ago, when a doctor suggested I consider supplementing my mammograms with MRI’s, I was proactive and scheduled both tests for the same day. The radiologist who reviewed my mammogram images said, “Everything looks great,” and told me to go have lunch and come back in an hour. The MRI found the cancer cells. Even though there was no tumor visible in the mammography pictures, and no palpable lump felt upon examination, the MRI detected what needed to be found. Turns out my cancer cells were aggressive so who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have the MRI when I did. So yes, I am a breast cancer survivor. And I am fierce.
When it comes to your health, be proactive and ask questions. Think of medical testing and treatment options as you would the dessert buffet – whatever they offer, you take it.
I challenge you to be fierce. You don’t have to wear red nail polish. You don’t even need to wear a pink ribbon. Just be fierce.
To learn more about what it means to have dense breast tissue, I encourage you to visit: