Find peace of mind in getting your tests done, whether for lumps or lead

Like the classrooms of yesteryear, I’ve received a reminder that: some tests are easier than others; some test results are easier to wait for than others; and avoiding these tests won’t improve the situation.

If you’ve been following my columns, you’ll know that last month I was told I had to get a lead test for my water, and a couple of weeks later, I was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound for a lump I’d found in my breast. It won’t be hard for you to guess which test I preferred, but both results came back fine, so I really can’t complain.

I can’t grumble about a 4.5-hour wait in the walk-in clinic. I recently heard of one hospital in Hamilton, Ont., that’s having a hard time meeting the goal of seeing patients in 13 hours.

I have no complaints about the nurses or doctor who saw me. Quite the opposite; they were all very professional, caring, and efficient.

I won’t gripe about the scheduling of the mammogram with the Breast Health Clinic. Ruth got me an appointment quickly, was lovely to talk with, and gave me a website to consult for more information on breast health. My ultrasound was booked through the out-patient clinic almost as quickly.

Although terrified about the mammogram, I can’t complain about the experience. Once TJ realized that my coping mechanism was to make jokes, we had a pretty good time (quite impressive since my body cringed away from the machinery in contempt as she pulled me in impossible directions). In addition, I can only be grateful for the kind gesture that followed. TJ called ultrasound to see if they could see me that day so that I wouldn’t have to return five days later. (Yeah! There had been a cancellation.) For the first time ever I didn’t even begrudge the cold ultrasound gel — it was heavenly on my inflamed skin.

The speed of the results was not whine-worthy, it was quite impressive. Even though days seem like weeks when you are holding your breath. I finally exhaled when I got the words, “Your tests were fine.”

Though a stressful time in my life, I really have nothing to complain about, especially as I was embraced by my phenomenal support network of family and friends — including some “friends that I hadn’t met yet” who emailed me after reading my last column. Thank you.

My only grumble, now that I think of it, is that Ontario only starts testing for breast cancer at age 50. I’d like to see that number come down to 40 (even if they only do tests at age 40, 45, and then 50).

If you find a lump, get it tested. The peace of mind is worth a little discomfort, both physical and emotional, while tests are being done and as you wait for the results. Remember — this goes for men too. (And while you are at it — check your junk for lumps.)

The water test for lead was a cakewalk in comparison. Two water samples were taken, and within a few days I had my results. The running-water test came back perfect, and the standing-water test came in well below the limit.

In talking to PUC, I was impressed to learn that Sault Ste. Marie did more tests than required under the legislation. It also worked with the Innovation Centre to identify homes with lead or galvanized service pipes, and further added data from the Algoma Health Unit to make sure that those houses with expectant mothers or children under six received priority messages.

Unbelievably, some houses with known lead pipes still have not received the test, even after numerous letters from PUC.

I can’t understand why you wouldn’t get the test, even if you use a certified water filter (they take out 97% of the lead), or you are in the habit of running your water until it gets cold (that means it’s new water that hasn’t been sitting in the pipes).

If you got a letter, or if your house was built between 1943 and 1948, call PUC Services to schedule a test at 705-759-6522.

If you buy or rent a home that age, ask the previous owner or landlord for the lead test results. Otherwise, when you go in to sign up for your new PUC service, ask them if your house is on the list of those that needs to be tested, or had over the limit results. It is your right to know.

For lumps or lead, make the call and do your tests, and I hope you pass with flying colours. Regardless, remember that knowledge is power. Not doing the tests won’t make the problem go away, and could make it much, much worse.

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