Wednesday, November 18, 2009

8 days & counting!

Today is my 39 week appointment! There are only 8 days left of this pregnancy! Yippee! I wonder if I've progressed any more at this point. In a way I hope so, but I hope I haven't progressed too much. I *really* want her to arrive on Thanksgiving! Not only will it be neat for her to share Andrew's birthday and occasionally Thanksgiving, it will also signify that she is the cause of great thanksgiving throughout my family. Her continued health and good growth has had a profound impact, not only on close members of my family, but also on people who previously were only tangentially (if even that much) in contact with us. Plus she'll continue my holiday baby theme as well as my Thursday baby theme & right-on-time baby theme! Dr. Briones doesn't think we're going to make it until Thanksgiving. She said if I really want to I need to do a lot more laying around & a lot less of everything else. I've progressed to 3 cm & 80%... I'm laying here w/ my legs crossed now! ;-)

Today is also the 4 year anniversary of mine & Andrew's first meeting. At the time I was still in recovery mode from the loss of Brian. However, I was trying to open myself up to the possibilities again. That fateful day 4 years ago I was being a pack-mule for my friend. She & her now-husband had just bought a house. She was bringing boxes of her things to the new house. The guys (Andrew & her now-husband) were mowing the yard. Apparently for Andrew it was pretty instant that he wanted to know more about me. I really didn't give him a second thought. We joked for a while in the house and went our separate ways. My friend told me that he was her now-husband's best friend, so we'd be seeing a lot of each other probably. It didn't bother me either way. Eventually, one thing lead to another & now here I sit married for almost 3 years with an adorable little boy and a precocious little girl on the way! Isn't God grand?!?!

Now for some serious stuff (some of this may be directly political, so if that will offend you - please quit reading).

I am shocked & appalled at the recent news that a health panel is advising women to not get mammograms while they're in their forties. They're also recommending that instead of yearly mammograms, women get mammograms once every 2 years. Apparently this group - USPSTF - has reviewed some data & decided that its not worthwhile to catch breast cancer in a 40-49 year old woman. The American Cancer Society (ACS) uses the same data as this group as well as other sources, and begs to differ as you can read here. To summarize the ACS position, breast cancer deaths in women diagnosed at 40-49 account for 17% of all breast cancer deaths. The USPSTF acknowledges that 15% reduction of breast cancer deaths in women 40-49 is the same as the reduction in breast cancer deaths in women aged 50+. However, the USPSTF apparently doesn't think that the lower risk 40-49 year old women are worth saving. The raw numbers (from the ACS site) indicate that the screening of 1904 women (age 40-49) to save one of these women from dying of breast cancer is not worthwhile. However, the screening of 1339 women (age 50+) to save one of dying of breast cancer *is* worthwhile. I'm no mathematician, but statistically speaking, saving 0.05% of women (40-49) vs saving 0.07% of women (50+) is not statistically different. If you remove the numbers and actually think of the people you personally know in either of these age groups, you'd probably agree that all the screening in the world should be done to protect your friend, relative, associate, etc - regardless of their age!

I know that if my mom had followed these new suggestions she would either still be fighting or already dead from her breast cancer. She was diagnosed via annual/typical mammogram at age 48. She wasn't having any signs. There was no visible/palpable lump or dimple. There was no pain associated w/ her breast. However, she was a walking time-bomb. My aunt Jacqueline, through the Holy Spirit, finally convinced my mom to get her mammogram that year. Thank God for you, Jacqueline!

This new suggestion from the USPSTF to me screams ObamaCare. From their website I can't tell how their board is selected or how often. I can see from scanning the list of board members, that none of them are oncologists. In my opinion, that means that they may have book knowledge of cancer, its statistics, and such, but they're not in the trenches dealing with it day in & day out. To me, that takes away from their 'expertise' at making guidelines for cancer screening. For all we know they are selected by the current administration to toe the line. I'm not typically a fan of conspiracy theories, but I think the recent passage of the Health Care Reform and push for reduced health care costs may be driving this type of statement. Afterall, mammograms are fairly expensive and we have a very large population of women 40+ who should be getting mammograms. Since this administration is also pushing for government funded/run health care it would seem that in order to 'lower' costs, they would have to decide what programs to cut. If you watch TV commercials you'll see competing viewpoints - some say Medicare was cut, while others say those are lies. However, since I doubt anyone who actually voted on the bill read the entire thing, I'd say chances are pretty good that there are some serious restrictions and re-allocations of funds that are going to take everyone by surprise. However, it would quiet the masses tremendously if some of these restrictions and re-allocations were approved by a theoretical 'unbiased' medical group... Enter the USPSTF... I wonder what their next recommendation will be...

I feel that I'm in a unique place right now. I pay for my own health-care sort-of by working & contributing to my employers health care plan. I also pay for my own cancer insurance in the event of my getting cancer (how fortuitius for me that I started the policy 3-4 years ago). Since I am now in that dreaded category of 'cancer survivor' changes in health care could drastically affect me. My fear is not that I'll be dropped from my insurance coverage b/c of my diagnosis. My fear is that w/ new rules and regulations pressed upon them by the government (and 'unbiased' groups like the USPSTF), I will not be able to get the care I need to see my children grow up. To many, my continued treatment after removal of my 'lump' seems excessive. Some local doctors got downright pissy b/c I went to MD Anderson for consultation and treatment. The entire course of action I am doing seems excessive to some lay people as well as doctors. However, at this point my insurance company covers this course of treatment/prevention. I am lucky in this fact. The race is on for me to get everything done to the best of my benefit before any more restrictions come down the line. At least thats how it feels to me.

At this point, I don't even know if there's anything we can do. Grass-roots campaigns are great, don't get me wrong. However, I haven't seen them lately actually accomplish their goals. The current climate politically is to merely tell the people "Pay no attention to what you see behind the curtain." They aren't even really hiding their duplicity. As a point in fact, the government web-site has congressional districts that don't exist showing signs of economic improvement due to the stimulus. I heard this on the news & thought surely they'd either fix the sites errors or pull the site down for maintenance. They haven't yet... Here is what they report for my state, KY. The numbers look pretty good, don't they? However, closer inspection (and a little bit of knowledge of KY's congressional districts) reveals that all is not right on this site... KY only has 6 congressional districts and they're consecutively numbered. Therefore, reports of money & jobs in congressional district 7 for instance *has* to be fraudulant or at the very least a serious mistake. There are 9 * imaginary* congressional districts that are shown by this site as receiving funds... I challenge any of my readers from out-of-state to check their state for these same types of 'mistakes'. What can we do though? Even though this has been on the news and questions have been asked about it, I've heard no apologies or true explanations for why or how these imaginary places are reported to have been awarded stimulus funds. I'm definitely not a politician, but as a moral individual, I would be compelled to 1st pull the site down and keep it down until the numbers can be properly assigned. However, b/c this administration knows there's nothing we, the public, can do to them, they continue to put forth their bad numbers and present them as truth.

I guess I'll get off my soap-box now. Sorry for hi-jacking what has typically been a very up-beat, non-political blog. However, I just had to get some of this stuff off my mind & onto someone elses! ;-)

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And two shall become one...

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