Seeing Pink—Seeing Red

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maybe I am particularly interested since I am a breast cancer survivor. My good fortune is due to at least two things. The Lord isn’t finished with me yet, and my illness was detected extremely early.

My lump was found during a routine mammogram. I know that the government has advised that women do not need mammograms as often, but I am the perfect example of how beneficial they are. In 2010 when I had my mammogram there was nothing unusual found. By 2011 a cancerous spot was detected. Although this spot was less than 1 cm, it was impacting my health.

I was not surprised when I heard the news. I had experienced night sweats where I would wake up with bedding and bed clothes wet. I knew from experience that could mean trouble. My husband had night sweats triggered by his cancer.

Everyone I dealt with on the health issue was kind and thoughtful. They realized how fearful a process the diagnosis of cancer was to me. I was one of the lucky ones. After two surgeries, there was no more cancer detected in my body. As a follow-up to be sure I went through a series of radiation treatments and five years of medication to suppress the disease. I am now half way through the medication process and doing well. I feel good, and better yet, when I have my mammograms nothing is spotted.

I know that the small lump that was removed would not have been able to be felt for years. It was in a spot that was buried deeply in tissue. Only that mammogram was the key.

Breast cancer is not only a woman’s disease. There are some men who are victims as well, but most of the victims are women. Mothers encourage your daughters to be tested. Daughters encourage your mothers to be tested. Husbands and fathers encourage the women in your life to have this lifesaving test.

At the hospital these days pink is the color. In the screening center there are baskets of pink things as part of a give-away. Last year I had a follow-up mammogram in October, and I received a pink glass. That glass is a reminder to me of my good fortune. Every time I use it I think of how fortunate I was.

My friends gave me a mug with a butterfly when I finished my radiation treatments. That mug is special to me. I have always loved butterflies, but they mean more to me than ever these days. Celebrating another birthday is special as well. I do not take them for granted these days. They say when you get older you forget about birthdays, not so if you are a cancer survivor. It is another year that you have lived through with the promise of more birthdays.

If you have not yet had your annual mammogram, call to make that appointment. It just could be a life saving measure for you, too.



Did you happen to watch “60 Minutes” this week? This is where I see red. They said that the designation of disability is one of the largest businesses these days. There are a number of what I’ll call scummy law firms that specialize in getting disability benefits for people, not because they are disabled, but because they can make money off of them. You know who they are. They advertise on television.

It was revealed that some of these law firms have doctors on their payroll that examine hundreds of patients at a time to claim disability. They know what the triggers are and when they go before the judges they are all granted benefits.

The law when it was written specifically said that if a person could perform any type of work he/she was not eligible for benefits. How did this huge drain on the economy ever get to the proportion that it is today? Do we really have that many more disabled people today? It has nothing to do with age. Many of the disabled are young.

My uncle was truly disabled yet he could not get benefits. He had a brain tumor that made it impossible for him to even find his way home. His license was lifted as well. He certainly could not perform his job that required intricate figures. He tried twice before he died and each time he was denied benefits. Contrast with the easy going system that we have today. Find a lawyer who specializes in this and he/she will take your case.

Why have the scummy law firms flourished? They are a lucrative business. They make almost as much as the people they represent because they take a share of the benefits earned.

Please do not misunderstand me. I do not deny there are legitimate cases of disability. I wholeheartedly endorse helping them. Unfortunately, many of those people do not receive any help because they are too proud to apply for it. They do not want to go to these sleazy law firms.

I am not talking about our disabled veterans either. They deserve our help and support. These people risked their lives to preserve our way of life. I am talking about the people who use disability as a way of life. We are paying for it – all of us.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at