A review of cancer screening studies shows that white women who are obese are less likely than healthy weight women to get the recommended screenings for breast and cervical cancer, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health.Let's, for a moment, ignore the disappearing of women who are not black or white and the curious "healthy weight women" remark, shall we? Within this study, women who are labeled obese are less likely to get pap smears and mammograms. When asked why, Sarah S. Cohen, lead author of the article, replied, "Our review doesn’t tell us why larger women are not getting screened as frequently for these cancers. It only reveals the trend."
The trend was not seen as consistently among black women; however there were fewer high quality studies that examined black women separately.
I'd like to offer a couple of suggestions. Maybe it's because doctors make us feel similar to the little things that crawl out when you turn a rock over? (Until you get the stern "Shame on you, fat girl, you might die tomorrow!" lecture, you haven't experienced a doctor's visit!). Maybe because we're taught to hate our bodies and the idea of getting naked in front of anyone is terrifying? Maybe, deep down, given the fact that we're taught fat is bad from, oh, say, the womb, we might believe being ill is our just due for being fat?
Zan says what so many of us feel here:
I hate seeing new doctors. There's always the hesitation, the worry -- is this doctor going to take me seriously? Is she going to believe me when I describe my symptoms? Or is she going to dismiss it all because I'm a fat girl? Is she going to try to sell me on weight loss as the cure-all for my ailments -- which she doesn't even believe exist anyway.And a couple of years ago, I talked about my experiences:
I went to doctors for four years before I was initially diagnosed with Fibromylgia, then with Lupus. They all told me, to the man (and funnily enough, they were all men), that I was just stressed and overweight. If I learned how to relax and lost some weight, why all my pain would just disappear!
And so, I have a great fear of being dismissed and reduced to my weight when I see a new doctor.
My PCP in my late 20s was a brusque woman who was absolutely appalled by my "choice" to be fat. I went to her for over a year, feeling that I deserved her insults, hoping they would spur me to do something. Some of the most memorable:So many times, for me, going to the doctor has been like getting every negative message ever aimed at me for being fat condensed (and sharpened) into a 15-minute block. It's overwhelming, shaming, draining.
(When having me stand and stretch) "Stand with your feet together. Well, as close as you can get them."
(When I went to her crying with back pain) "You should really consider getting your breast size reduced. If you lose weight. As far as the pain, I'm not going to treat the symptoms if you won't remedy the underlying cause."
(During a routine check-up) "Your knees and back are going to be gone in a decade.
(During a painful Pap smear) "I'm sorry, but I have to press harder and really search for (whatever the hell she was looking for) in a woman your size.
Only after talking to some friends, who looked at me as if I was crazy when I talked about my experiences, did I realize I didn't have to take that treatment, that maybe every complaint I had was not an outgrowth of my being big. I mean, I went to the ER after the back fiasco and found out I had pulled a muscle and I'd never had a painful Pap before. I could be hurt or sick in a way unrelated to my size. That was amazing.
The latest incident involved an ER visit with a seemingly nice doctor who apparently decided I was a moron:
"What's bothering you?"
"Abdomen and lower back hurt badly. Really bad nausea. My doctor can't see me til Wednesday."
"Does it hurt when press here? Here? Can you jump? Does that hurt? Can you bend? Does that hurt? Has it gotten any better? Are you sure it's your abdomen and back? Do you think you could be pregnant?"
I answered each question patiently. Then he asks:"Have you eaten?"
"Because of the nausea."
"What about it?"
"If I eat, I'll throw up. If I throw up, I can't stop."
"Oh. Well, are you hungry?"
"Okay. Would you like someone to bring you something to eat?"
"Fine. Are you sure you're not just hungry? Have you eaten anything?"
Five minutes of this until he decides that, despite the fact that I'm fat, maybe, just maybe, I'm not currently interested in food. Eventual diagnosis: bladder infection.
And it's why I hate going to the doctor's.