Mother’s Day is just around the corner.
While many of us may think of buying lavish gifts or meals to treat the important women in our lives, we often forget that a big part of “treating” them also includes ensuring their physical wellbeing.
Beyond popping vitamin C pills and overdosing on chicken essence, it may not always be easy or convenient for our mums to manage their health.
And while achieving this may be just one medical check-up away, some mums may avoid the words “health screening” like the plague.
But are their knee-jerk reactions to health screenings well-founded?
We turned to our Instagram audience for responses and an expert, Lim Li Min, for answers.
Lim is part of the Women’s Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Committee in the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS), and a consultant at the National University Hospital (NUH) and the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS).
Here are the top responses we received, and Lim’s replies to them.
Fear of finding out something is wrong
A large number of respondents said that they did not go for health screenings because they were afraid to uncover “the truth”.
These people shared a collective sentiment: Ignorance is bliss. Why ruin your life with knowledge you could sleep peacefully without?
Mothers especially, might worry about the impact on their children should a dreaded illness surface.
Still, catching a potential illness in its early stages might offer the best chance for a positive outcome.
While Lim acknowledged that fear was a natural response, she stressed that the benefits of detecting potential illnesses early was worth it.
“A great example is cervical cancer. Cervical cancer screening tests are crucial as they detect HPV infection and pre-cancerous cells which may not cause symptoms. These cervical changes can be detected and treated before they turn into cancer.”
She advised women to bring up their concerns with their healthcare provider in order to have “open communication about the potential outcomes”.
A good number of respondents complained that they weren’t too keen on taking time away from their busy schedules to make appointments and to wait for their turn at the clinic.
This was ever more pertinent for mothers who often put the needs of the family before theirs.
Waiting forever for health screenings, though, seems to be just a myth.
Lim pointed out that this was but a “small investment in long-term health”, sharing that many healthcare providers now offer simpler scheduling options and quicker screenings.
“For instance, cervical cancer screening is a straight-forward process that takes five to 10 minutes. You can opt for self collection for cervical screening using a simple swab, which is more comfortable and just as effective as traditional screening methods.”
Don’t know what’s good and available
Some respondents displayed a certain level of confusion as to where to go.
A couple of them also admitted that they lacked enough data to make an informed decision on where to go for reliable yet affordable screenings.
According to Lim, healthcare providers can offer guidance in finding the ideal screening that fits your individual needs and risk factors.
Alternatively, you can consult their official websites.
Why go if healthy?
Finally, a few respondents said that they would not go for health screenings if they believed they were healthy.
This is not a good enough reason not to go for a health screening though, Lim clarifies.
She pointed out that many diseases such as cancer and heart disease don’t exhibit noticeable symptoms.
“Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that often doesn't present any symptoms in its early stages, making it difficult to detect without regular screenings.”
For mothers whose schedules revolve around their families, their health might be left on the back burner just because they “feel okay”.
National Women’s Check-Up Week
May 8 to 14 marks Singapore's first ever National Women’s Check-Up Week, a period dedicated to helping women of all ages take charge of their health.
Women are encouraged to book a free screening at the SCS Clinic in Bishan or check out the screening options at their go-to clinic.
Screenings include an overall health assessment to detect potential health issues and provide guidance on how to stay in the pink of health.
After all, ensuring that she is in the pink of health is one of the best gifts you can give her.
This sponsored article by Roche Diagnostics Asia Pacific made this writer think about the different ways we take health for granted.
Top images via Patty Brito/Unsplash