My ex-wife once asked me to accompany her when she went for a mammogram. It wasn’t a perverse “that’ll show you, you bastard kind of thing” but was based on the fact that the process unnerved her and she wanted my moral support during the process.
“Sure,” I replied. No big sacrifice. Just her naked boobs being scanned. What sort of problem could that be? Thank God I restrained myself from making the observation that in my mind she was just “being silly about it.”
And so I went. And “ewww”. That’s what I say. “What an unpleasant little indignity, and painful to boot. Sort of took a little of the fun out of what crass men (of course I’m not one of them, really I’m not) deem to be a kind of playground and not much more.
There’s a jape about this that involves the testicles that is directed at unfeeling men. It gives an idea of how it goes, and it goes not nicely.
Anyway, breast cancer is a reality and commendations are due to the tireless campaigners in their quest to find a cure for a major killer of the women we are or the women we love.
However, and this was a big eye-opener for me, and it may be for the lot of us. Breast cancer is not ‘the’ major health threat leading to premature mortality for women.
The big one – biggest by far – is heart disease. Wait! Coronaries! Coronaries happen to overweight, heavy-boozing and probably heavy-smoking, stressed and frustrated mid-management guys attempting a Cialis seduction of a young-enough-to-be-his-daughter babe in a sleazy motel? Right. And with the operative word being ‘guys’. You know the routine: the sweating, palpitations, aching arm, vomiting and intense chest pain. You’ve seen it a few dozen times in movies and TV shows.
Well, yeah. That’s a reality, no doubt. But it’s not the only reality. Heart disease is the major killer of women, and it trumps all cancers combined. Chilling enough, but even more chilling is that a lot of people, women especially, do not recognize this reality.
These observations arise from the fact that I write the newsletter for our local hospital foundation and for the most recent one I carried out an interview with a woman who’d had a massive coronary at age 51. A coronary that led to triple bypass and, in her case, a coronary that evinced all the classic male symptoms of such a life-threatening event.
In that, she says, she was lucky only I the sense that she realized what was happening and dealt with it right away.
Most women, she added, aren’t so ‘lucky’ and their heart distress can go largely undetected. Women, she believes, and justly so, must be aware of that and must consider their stress levels, their family histories, blood pressure, cholesterol, life-style habits and so forth. They must be aware of what their really big threat is, and it just might not be what they thought it was.
So, to all the women who might read this; women for whom I have great regard, take whatever care you need to take. I cherish having you around.