Dear Abby: I am a mammography technologist. Please help me tell mammogram patients how important it is for them to bring in their old mammogram films when they go to a new X-ray office for this test.
Only if the radiologist who reads the films has the old ones for comparison can he or she determine if the shadows are old or new. Without those films for comparison, the patient may have to undergo more mammography X-rays and perhaps also a biopsy that might have been avoided had the old films been available to the doctor.
Because of changing insurance, it is not always possible for women to have mammograms done at the same place every time. A patient needs only to keep track of where her mammograms were taken so she can call and ask about the procedure for releasing the films to her. The films will be at the X-ray office where they were taken, not at her doctor's office. If she can't remember, her doctor should be able to tell her.
Don't let anyone tell you that mammograms aren't necessary! — Holly Gordon, Fountain Valley, Calif.
Dear Holly: Thank you for giving women this important reminder, and for giving me the opportunity to reprint these recommendations from the American Cancer Society for early breast cancer detection.
1. Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year.
2. Between the ages of 20 and 39, women should have a clinical breast exam by a health professional every three years. At age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.
3. Women age 20 or older should perform a breast self-exam (BSE) every month.
4. If a change occurs, a woman should see her health provider as soon as possible for evaluation.
The American Cancer Society can provide free information on how to perform a BSE by calling (800) 227-2345. You will be referred to your nearest ACS office.
Dear Abby: My grandmother lives close to where I work. Sometimes I stop off and have lunch with her, get her groceries, keep up the yard and do a little work around her house. The problem is, she wants to pay me for everything I do. She's not rich, but she's not poor, either.
Last week, I vacuumed her basement because she didn't want the furnace man to see it dirty. She slipped me a $20 bill, I refused to take it. She shoved it into my pants pocket and said that if I didn't help her, who would?
I'm uncomfortable taking her money because she's helped other family members her whole life. I feel it's only right to return the favor. How should I handle this? — Lucky Grandson
Dear Lucky: You are fortunate to have such a generous grandmother — and she's blessed to have a caring grandson like you.
Your grandmother has a lot of pride. Instilled in her generation was the conviction that you "pay your way" in the world. I understand your hesitation, but take the money. Consider applying part of it to something she might enjoy — a newspaper or magazine subscription, a recording of her favorite music, a prepaid telephone card — something she might not buy for herself.
Dear Abby: My good friend who is being married soon chose the color of the bridesmaids' dresses and shoes. She even told us to wear our hair in an up-do. I don't mind wearing the dress and shoes she has chosen, or having my hair up — but now she wants me to color my light brown hair darker. I don't know why she would ask me to do a thing like that. Should I? — Puzzled Bridesmaid in New Jersey
Dear Bridesmaid: The bride has gone overboard in her need to control how everything looks at her wedding. She may want all of her bridesmaids to "blend together" so that she will be the focus of all the attention on her big day. From my perspective, she has gone a little far — but the decision is yours to make.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.) ©Universal Press Syndicate