Category Archives: Personal

Would you pay privately for a mammogram?

Dangerous mammogram controversy

 

NY Times article dated, May 7, 2014

 

A personal note. As one who had no family history and no symptoms, were it not for a mammogram, my breast cancer diagnosis would likely have come at a more advanced, more difficult to treat, and likely more deadly stage. This article and others like it gloss over important facts, such as our inability to discern which women are ‘at risk’ and should be covered (I wouldn’t have met the criteria,) and the personal ‘cost’ of diagnosing breast cancer at later stages (riskier treatments; more chemotherapy, more mastectomies.)

Hidden in the article is the statement that ‘Diagnostic methods these days catch most cases of breast cancer that can be effectively treated, and much of what is picked up by universal screening is over-diagnosis.‘ What are these ‘diagnostic methods?’ (Mammograms and then, if needed, sonograms and MRI’s.) Would all of these ‘effectively treated’ cases be caught if women had to pay for screening out of pocket? How much does a mammogram cost? Anywhere from $500-$2700 is typical. Where is the study showing what percentage of women would forego screening if they had to pay privately for it, and what the impact of this would be on number of diagnoses, and on staging, treatment and mortality? And as for over-diagnosis, another term that medical economists love to tout when talking about mammograms…let’s talk about how to address over-treating rather than over-diagnosis.  As one who has been diagnosed with breast cancer as the result of a mammogram, I’d prefer to have been wrongly diagnosed even if it meant having to undergo an unnecessary procedure. I would bet that 100% of the 40,000 or so women who are diagnosed each year in the US and the 4,500 who are diagnosed each year in Israel, would agree with me on this one.

One could argue, but the worst part of these discussions is the unintentional fallout. It is confusing women and they are not getting screened.

Thie controversy over mammograms will be one of the topics to be discussed at the Lemonade Fund’s WOMEN’S HEALTH AWARENESS EVENT, Monday, May 12 in Raanana.

https://www.facebook.com/lemonadefund/events

https://lemonadefund.org/2014/05/04/oops-corrected-address-for-womens-health-awareness-event/

3 Years! A Personal Message

Though the Lemonade Fund, www.lemonadefund.org, would never turn away donations, today I am personally asking for something other than money.

Three years ago this week, in July 2010, specifically on the Jewish day of Tisha B’Av,  I received the news that I had breast cancer. The year that followed was difficult, but I had excellent medical care, faith and support, and I am happy to say that I felt fine by the following Tisha B’Av.

As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. A serious illness is terrifying, and one can focus on little beyond survival. During that initial year I was also struck by how costly it was to be sick and I became concerned about patients who were dealing with breast cancer and poverty at the same time. Thus, exactly one year later, in August 2011, on erev Tisha B’Av, the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, aka, the Lemonade Fund, was born. Since then, the Lemonade Fund has given one-time grants to many needy Israeli breast cancer patients, to help alleviate financial pressure while they are undergoing treatment.

While I am heartened that we can help these patients financially, there is another way I would like to ask for your help. Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, begins tomorrow evening. The fractious nature of Jewish society is often blamed for the historic tragedies that befell us on this day, and we hear many calls for Jewish unity at this time of year. Great idea, but how do we implement ‘tikun olam’ (repairing the world) at a grass-roots level? How do we begin?

Personally. One to one.

At the Lemonade Fund, our focus is illness. Most of the women (though men can get breast cancer, all of our grantees to date have been women) who have received Lemonade Fund grants are desperately ill. The poor often don’t get medical help until disease is advanced. Many are young and single parents. Children are impacted.

Please take a moment on Monday night/Tuesday to have these women in mind. If it is your way, please pray for them. (You can read many of their stories on the website.) Volunteer at the Lemonade Fund; we welcome all volunteers. Or reach out to someone you may know who is ill. Call them, text them, visit them, connect with their caregivers and offer support. Pray for them.

That’s all. Thank you.

With collective acts of good, we can become closer and turn this day of destruction into a day of happiness and reconstruction. Petty hatred is incompatible with compassion. Illness knows no boundaries; enemies share hospital rooms and heal together. I have had the good fortune, thank God,  to see this date, Tisha B’Av, transformed into an anniversary of recovery, of hope. May we all merit to continue in this direction, together.

Thanks, Shari

Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund (IBCERF)

c/o ESRA
P.O.Box 3132
Herzliya 46104, Israel
email: info@lemonadefund.org
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Consider having your next gift help the Lemonade Fund www.mgifts.org.