We can’t let other people’s fear keep us from taking care of our health. I didn’t get a mammogram for years because everybody told me how painful it was. Friends and comedians would joke that getting a mammogram was like slamming your breast in the freezer door or putting it in a vise. Who would want to do that?
I didn’t go to a gynecologist because my mother never impressed on me that I should. As far as I know, once she had stopped having children she stopped going for checkups. She certainly didn’t teach me how to keep my female parts healthy. She thought that sex was dirty. Sex was something you did once a week as a duty to your husband.
Also, friends talked about how uncomfortable it was to go to the gynecologist. They said it was awkward, unpleasant, strange – they really weren’t selling it as something I should do. They always talked about going for a checkup as a chore, kind of like how my Mom talked about sex. One even said she’d rather have a root canal than go to the gynecologist. Either she has a great dentist or a terrible gynecologist.
Then I read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and I learned that a woman in her 30s could die of cervical cancer. For some reason I thought that was an older woman’s disease. I was concerned enough that I went for my first checkup in 20 years. I found that I had moderate to severe cervical dysphasia. Not cancer, but cancer’s next door neighbor. I had surgery to get it removed. If I had listened to other people’s fear or ignorance, I could be dead by now from something totally preventable.