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There are few things that I know with certainty in life, but of this I am sure: the woman featured in the above YouTube is a kick-ass survivor and a heroine.  And so is Melissa Etheridge, who sings the song that plays in the background — it never fails to bring a tear or two to my eyes, because my mother is a breast cancer survivor, and I'm at a much higher risk for the disease myself, having already found one precancerous, golf-ball-sized lump that had to be excised.

Far too often, women take care of everyone else around them, but forget to take care of themselves.  Let this serve as a reminder to all our female readers to put on their oxygen mask first, so that you can better take care of those around you:  take that nap that you need, take a few minutes with a cup of tea and have a breather.  Eat healthier.  Get a little exercise.  Go see your doctor for a regular exam.  And do a BSE every month.  (In my minds' eye, I can see my husband shaking his head as he reads this, because I am THE WORST about taking care of myself.  So take a moment and ask your partner, your husband, your family to help you take time for yourself…they'll all be better for it, and so will you.  Mr. ReddHedd is amazing about that for me, and I'm quite grateful.)

I found my lump through a BSE when The Peanut was only three months of age — scariest thing that ever happened in my life, because we had just been given the miracle that we'd always dreamed of having and I was facing down the potential void of losing that dream just as it became real.  I was lucky — we caught things early, before it had even turned cancerous and begun to metastisize. 

But now I get a mammogram every single year.  No excuses.  And a pap smear (as the YouTube above shows, ovarian and uterine cancers are nothing to sneeze at either…no cancer is, but the earlier you catch it, the better for you).  And whatever else my doctor says we need to do to be certain that I am healthy.

I have a lot to live for these days.  And so do you.  So please, consider this a request from a friend:  it's a marathon you want to run, not a sprint, so take the time for appropropriate care along the way.  And, as it is breast cancer awareness month, be sure you've had your annual exam…and that you are doing those self checks every single month.  It could save your life.

(And this goes for the men in the audience as well.  The rate of breast cancer in men is rising — keep that in mind, please, and do a self-exam for yourself.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com