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Friday, January 11, 2013

Downton Abbey and Mammograms

Downton Abbey did not make it on my radar till sometime in the second season.  Being able to watch back episodes online through various media I became enthralled.  As have millions of others anglophiles.  The "will they/won't they" of the Anna/Bates love affair as well as Ladies Mary, Sybil and Edith and their loves has kept us all "atwitter".  Well, at least interested enough to tune back in each new episode.  It has been interesting seeing the take on WWI and the changes brought by the war.

Of course the wedding last week with the promise of another this week is pulling me back in as I love wedding gowns.  But the potential of a "fiscal cliff" for Downton Abbey feels a little like Déjà vu.  But time will tell on that as well as another unrelated development.

The possibility of Mrs. Hughes having breast cancer in a time before, well, pretty much before all humane things relating to detection and treatment were in use.  Mrs. Hughes told Mrs. Patmore when the cook encouraged Mrs. Hughes to tell the butler of her sickness, "And what is there to tell? One day I will die. And so will he and you and every one of us under this roof."

A little online research about mammography revealed that as early as 1913 the first x-rays were done by Dr. Albert Salomon.  He would make an x-ray of a breast prior to a mastectomy.  These x-rays were compared to the tissue samples in the removed breast.  Salomon's work describing the different cancers he identified is still used for reference today.  It was in the 1930's before one Dr. Warren began using w-rays for detection. It was in the 1960's that the current dedicated mammography units were developed.

Today I visited the Hulston Cancer Center to have my first mammogram in 10 years.  To my knowledge there has been no breast cancer in my family history.  I just decided it was time cause I was tired of being frowned at by doctors and friends.  So it is over.  And it was less uncomfortable than 10 years ago.  The plate is larger meaning only one shot in each dimension.  Since Cox's history did not have a third view, I did get to have three snapshots per appendage.
It is fortunate to live in a time when early detection can help to save so many lives.  Janer, Dara, and Dona are but three friends that are alive as a result of the ever improving detection capabilities.  For Mrs. Hughes and anyone during the beginning of the twentieth century there was not much available.  A syringe biopsy to see if blood is present is a far cry from the technology of detection used today.  A radical mastectomy was the last step.  This is certainly better than the 1600 BC treatment of cauterization using a "fire drill".

Tonight I am sending out a thank you to all the folks who have walked to raise funds, all the health professionals that have done research, businesses that have invested in drugs and equipment and all the thousand of unsung folks that have moved detection and treatment ahead. Some in Germany, some in France, some in the USA.

And thank you PBS and WBGH for Masterpiece.  I have enjoyed your work since "The Duchess of Duke Street" to the current Downton Abbey.
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