I never liked getting a mammogram, but then I discovered I disliked breast cancer even more. I become a member of the pink-ribbon club three years ago at the age of 48. A routine mammogram and ultrasound revealed a cluster of microcalcifications. After a need biopsy, MRI and lumpectomy/biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 LCIS/DCIS with a small invasive tumor.
Today, I'm fully recovered and cancer-free after having a double mastectomy and reconstruction (microvascular surgery, called DIEP, that used the small bulge that protruded over my jeans to make my new set of "sisters"). Yes, ladies, I now have a flat tummy and a perky pair of "belly boobs."
What I learned through my journey was that more than 50% of women who have insurance are not diligent about their annual screenings. Either they're too busy or fear what might be found so they put it off or skip their mammogram all together. This is astounding, because more and more women are joining the ranks of the uninsured and many of them desperately need a mammogram.
Last year, at the threshold of my 50th birthday, I launched a philanthropic social campaign. I created a pink tee that's spreads a sassy message in Southern style: Yes, Ma'am! Mammograms Are A Must. It is raising funds to help pay for mammograms for women in need. I speak to groups, sell the tee at events and have an increasing fan-base on Facebook. The list of Ma'ambassadors across the country is growing.
Ladies and healthcare organizations are up buying the tee to remind every woman they meet (whether at the gym, the store or around town) to "Get Your Squeeze On!" Nearly $1,500 has been donated so far.
I'm now energized to take the brand national. God has put this message in my heart to talk with women and encourage them to cherish themselves and make their health a top priority ... and to give graciously to others.
Yes, Ma'am! Mammograms Are A Must -- no exceptions, no excuses.
~ Lee McCracken
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