Sandy Springs: Tie a pink ribbon for me on Thursday

All things considered, life is good. I wake up in a soft bed, with a roof overhead, plenty of food in the larder and everyone in my immediate family in good health.

I’m especially thankful for my mother-in-law Rosemary Pearson.

What I’m not thankful for is the recent recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task force that mammograms shouldn’t be routine until age 50.

That said, I am thankful for my son’s mom and my ex-wife Shelia Osterman.

I’m thankful that I am part of the generation that has seen amazing things happen in the treatment of several kinds of cancer — but I can also remember when a breast-cancer diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence. Losing to breast cancer can be a terrible way to exit.

I’m thankful for some of my favorite entertainers — Sheryl Crow, Carly Simon, Melissa Etheridge and Edie Falco.

I’m sorry to harp, but getting back to that task force for a second, why would anyone with a medical degree opt for such an irresponsible recommendation? When is it wise to increase one’s risk of having to deal with cancer of any kind? Should we likewise change from SPF 50 to SPF 5? Just smoke half a cigarette several times per day? Flip a coin about getting annual screenings?

I’m thankful for Hala Moddelmog, president/CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but I confess that’s as much because she was at Georgia Southern when I was there as it is for her work today.

Recently I spent time with a young woman who made the difficult decision to undergo an elective double mastectomy because of her family history and the results of genetic testing. Her chances of getting breast cancer are now less than that of the average woman. But if she had waited, according to these new recommendations, she might not have made it to 50. Why send anyone down that road?

I’m also thankful for women like feminist Gloria Steinem, journalists Cokie Roberts and Linda Ellerbee, as well as retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. All four have made substantive contributions to society.

The other aspect of this task force recommendation that is so troubling is that it flies counter to what women have been told for decades about preventing breast cancer.

When did cancer prevention become something that needed to be relaxed?

Do we really need anyone with a medical background counseling us to be less conscious of prevention?

I’ll stop fussing now. I truly do have a lot to be thankful for this year. Times are tough for so many, I find it hard to complain.

By the way, the women mentioned above will probably all be giving thanks next week, because in spite of their varied ages, they share the bond of being breast cancer survivors.

I wonder what they would say to the task force?

Jim Osterman lives in Sandy Springs.

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