Regular readers know that, news-wise, CNN confuses me, and that I have all but kicked the NPR habit (it seems fantastic, but El Rancho Deluxe gets only one radio station, and it only plays one song: that Red Hot Chili Peppers slow dance where the dude yodels in that weird accent about how he doesn’t ever wanna feel like he did that day), with the happy result that pop culture’s gnarly substrate — urgently breaking news — rarely filters down to the lab here at Spinster HQ until a week or two after everyone else has moved on to the next closeted gay Republican outing. This programming suits me and my eccentric recluse lifestyle perfectly. Seriously, must I know about every deranged serial killer’s murderous rampage? One deranged serial killer is very like another. Once a person has apprehended that serial killers serially kill, the philosophical implications may be considered grasped; reviewing a continuous stream evidence of the phenomenon is not only unnecessary, it’s prurient.
But, out of the loop though I be, even I have heard about this no-mammograms-until-you’re-fifty malarkey, and it probably won’t blow your lobe to hear that it blew my lobe. The report made particularly gikky reading in view of the recent Stupak craptacity. America just feels like taking a big old televised crap on women’s basic health care this week, I guess. If, after reviewing the stunning and sweeping misogynist antics our government has pulled over the past couple of weeks, a person could stand up and announce with a straight face that patriarchy doesn’t exist, he’d have to be a complete imbecile.
I allude to the absurd recommendations, released Monday by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, concerning the age at which women should begin queuing up at the old mammogram machine. They used to say 40. But now they say 50, and only every other year.
Check this out: the “harms outweigh the benefits.” Not just for under-fifty mammograms, but for over 75 mammograms, and — this one really kills me — breast self-examinations!
That’s right, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force says women shouldn’t be taught to touch their own boobs. The harm outweighs the benefits!
The dreadful harm from which they seek to protect us?
Anxiety is bad for ladies. Worse, apparently, than blowing off the timely diagnosis of life-threatening illness.
Anxiety! Are they fucking kidding me? Does the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force think women pass their days carefree, lounging on puffy clouds of pink velvet laundry eating Boston cream pie-flavored Yoplait? For fuck’s sake, I don’t know a single woman whose lobes aren’t fucking soaking in anxiety just as a matter of course. I slurp down a couple of Ativans every morning with my Bloody Mary or I can’t leave the house. Anxiety is pie for women. It’s death that tends to slow us down a little.
Here’s an anecdote. One time I came down with breast cancer myself. I had the impertinence to come down with it at the age of 46. How did I know I had cancer? I happened to be giving myself one of those harmful self-exams and found a tumor the size of Guam up in that mug, that’s how. Did I subsequently experience anxiety? Hell yeah, I did. Do I prefer anxiety to death? Hell yeah, I do.
Of course, nobody really gives a crap whether women suffer anxiety. That’s just a lot of smoke up your ass. If they did give a crap, they’d make rape illegal or something. What they’re really so concerned about is that mammography can have false positives, which means expensive biopsies that insurance doesn’t want to pay for. But for crying out loud. Wouldn’t you rather have a biopsy that turned out to be unnecessary, than not have a biopsy that turned out to be necessary?
If I’d followed the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force Recommendations, I would be dead. Dead, dead, dead. As it was, I was pretty fucking sick.
So I’d like to shove my entire 46-year-old malignant tumor up the U.S Preventative Services Task Force’s entire ass.
Note: mammography is stunningly imperfect. It’s only useful in detecting cancer that’s already there. Which is to say, it’s a cure-based tactic. This makes it vastly inferior to preventative measures — vaccines, elimination of environmental carcinogens, etc — that might preclude cancer in the first place. Also, mammography is, as are all cure-based measures, useless for women who can’t afford subsequent treatment.
You know what else? Everyone should have access to free genetic testing to determine whether they have the breast cancer mutation. If you’ve got the mutation, your chances of tumoring out before age 50 are, like, 80%. Currently that test costs like 4 grand, and good luck getting your insurance company to cough up for it.