health

“It's finally dawned on me - I have reached THAT age.”

A lot of things are startling me this year.

I am 39, and the year seems to be rushing by as though it just can’t wait for me to turn 40. And let’s face it: Turning 40 is a whole new ball game.

In my mind it’s going to be the beginning of the most amazing chapter of my life. It is, I can feel it.

I’ve been building up to this stage for my entire life. In my twenties I looked better, in my thirties I worked better but in my forties, I just AM better. Or at least, I am going to be. Because everything is starting to make more sense to me. Everything has become more fun.

Turning 40 is also the time in my life when I need to step up all decisions I make about my health and wellness, what’s really important to me and how I want to spend the next 50 years of my life. Because I’m going to be one of those people who lives a full and active life until she is 90. Or 100. Or 110.

“I’m going to be one of those people who lives a full and active life until she is 90. Or 100. Or 110.”

 Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by Genius 3D. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

Turning 40 means I am at THAT age, the age when I am at risk of things. I of all people understand the gravity of this. Three beautiful women in my life have been battling cancer over the past five years and dealing with it admirably, surrounded by loving partners and children who tried to mask their fear. Their message to me and my take-home from watching them go through it all is to stay on top of my health. Nothing is more important than health.

Related: Charlize Theron says some really good things about turning 40.

For me it begins, in earnest, this year. With all three of my children now in school and 40 looming closer and closer and closer (seriously, I’m going to EMBRACE IT) I want to really prioritise my health. I do pretty well – vitamins, lots of vegies cooked in olive oil #italiancookingrocks, exercise and chocolate/medicine – but it’s time to step it up.

Because I am, after all, ‘that age’.

Mammogram technology has advanced so much since the days when a radiologist reviewed film images – now it’s all digital and even in 3D. The technology has grown and evolved and is much better at detecting breast cancer early. That’s why survival rates have improved so much. That’s why two of my three beautiful friends are still with me.

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With so much to do these days, knowing that my mammogram will find any breast cancer early, will reduce the likelihood of ‘false positive’ findings which would result in further testing and several nervous breakdowns, I know that if something does happen, my chances of surviving are greater. When breast cancer is found before it spreads into the lymph nodes, the five year survival rate is a whopping 96 per cent.

So I’m planning to see my GP to ask for a referral for a 3D mammogram. It was on my list of things to start doing this year, alongside regular haircuts, a switch to low-impact exercise due to joint pain from too much of the high-impact stuff, more superfoods in my diet and worrying less about the little things. And although most 40-year-olds aren’t thinking about having mammograms, I don’t want to wait until I’m 50 for peace of mind.

Related: When you and your breasts are 56, you’ve earned the right to do what you want with them. 

I’ve already done my research and discovered that younger women have denser breast tissue, and that 3D mammography is known to find more cancers in dense breasts than with 2D mammography, so I’m determined to get myself checked out this year, just to be safe.

“I’m determined to get myself checked out this year, just to be safe.”

I also want to start being a clean and tidy person, more organised, happier, more patient with my family, less guilty when I eat ricotta cheesecake and just more at peace in general. Like a brunette, less successful version of Elizabeth Gilbert who always seems to be happy and smiling and peaceful and sorted.

The good thing about being ‘that age’ is that everything just keeps getting better, and taking care of ourselves is easier than it has ever been before.

Did I mention I’m going to embrace it? Because I am.

What have you learned about reaching middle age?

Finding invasive cancers is absolutely critical to increase your chance of surviving breast cancer. Invasive breast cancers are nasty – they are the ones that have spread outside of the milk duct into the surrounding tissues. If they are detected early, before spreading to the lymph nodes, the five year survival rate is very high at 96%.

Having a Genius 3D mammogram increases your chance of having invasive cancer detected by 41% compared with usual 2D mammograms. It also reduces ‘false alarms’ by 15-40%, meaning there is less need for further testing, not to mention the anxiety that comes with this.

Find out more at www.genius3D.com.au