The Annual

Nobody likes annual checkups, but everybody knows they're important.  Especially when you get to be my age - the dire effects of aging are blasted in your face every time you open a magazine, pull up a web site, or watch a TV program.  Happily, my check up today was pretty painless in every way.  My efforts to eat better and exercise more have paid off - although we'll have to wait a few days to see how effective the oat bran muffin/ grapefruit juice regimen has been on the ever-elevated cholesterol levels. I've always been pretty healthy, but now that I've got a grandchild on the way, I'm got a really good reason to stay in the best shape possible for as long as I can. While I was in the doctor's office, I happened to mention to my doctor that four of my friends were currently in various stages of treatment for breast cancer.

"It's like an epidemic," she said, nodding her head sympathetically.  "Three of the women in my circle - including my sister-in-law- are also in treatment. Plus" - and here she stopped for a moment - "I have two women coming in later today and I have to tell them their biopsies were positive."

We went on to discuss some of the reasons why there seems to be so much breast cancer among women in my age group.  My doctor believes that food additives - such as the hormones in dairy and meat - are playing a big role. "Statistics tell us that breast cancer among older women is declining, probably because we're not prescribing estrogen replacement therapy so much anymore. But younger women, in their 40's and 50's, have grown up eating all the processed meats and dairy, as well as all the pesticide ridden produce. I think we're seeing the effects of that on this part of the population."

We also talked about the way young girls seem to be physically maturing so much faster.  I know this to be true - I work in a middle school sometimes, and I'm amazed at the well developed figures on many of the 12 year old girls.   It's thought that the hormone heavy milks and meats are partly responsible.

So lots of good reason to invest in organic products, especially dairy, meats, and produce.

Despite the good results and the good advice, I've still been troubled all afternoon.  I keep thinking about one of my friends, who had a mastectomy this morning. And also about those two patients who had appointments with my doctor today.  For me it was just an ordinary Monday.  For all these women, it was the beginning of a pretty horrifying new chapter in their lives.

So I'm holding them in my thoughts for the days ahead, and I know I'll be doing everything I can so that this time next year I get another clean bill of health.