Oct 4, 2018
For those of us 40 and older, there is very good preventative care for anyone using Japan's national health care system or company provided health care.
Each year, we can get a regular check up, but in addition, at specific ages for men and women, there are discounted or free screenings. Above are forms for several cancer screening tests I recently did. Women will have screenings for breast cancer (mammograms), colon cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer risk, and cervical cancer.
In the last couple months I've heard about two Japanese women younger than me who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer. This isn't something to take lightly even if I want to ignore it. The discounted or free cervical cancer screenings start at age 20 in my city.
In the photo above, there's a list of cancer screening tests offered at a discount to those living in my city. Other screenings available are for stomach and prostate cancer and osteoporosis.
I went to my usual clinic to make an appointment in advance, received these forms (top photo), then could go home to fill them out with help from my Japanese husband. There was another form showing results of last year's blood test, and I forgot to fill out the information on the back for this year's test. I did that in the waiting room using a translation app for the vocabulary in some questions I wasn't sure about.
No matter where you live, taking the time out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself and have these tests done isn't the kind of thing you get excited about. It's just a sterile medical procedure, paperwork, and sometimes paying fees. Luckily the cost for this in Japan is really low or free, depending on your age and income.
Last year I also did a stomach cancer screening involving a barium swallow and did not like that one bit. The nurses weren't sure what to think when I was acting like a five year old through the process.
It's sort of interesting doing these procedures for my first time in Japan. Still, I really have to talk myself into doing it and sometimes bribe myself somehow. I definitely have to give myself some extra time to do the screenings and maybe afterwards too, to take it easy after a busy day.
I find pleasure in the little things.
This is the mammogram machine that I affectionately called the 'boobie smasher,' but just as a joke. It wasn't that bad. I mostly entertained myself by thinking about the nurse whose job it is to wrangle boobies all day. It seemed like hard work.
This poop target for collection of feces samples was also kinda entertaining, because this is Japan and everything has to be cute.
I'm still waiting for the rest of my results after seeing the images right afterwards for my mammograms and lung X-ray. I haven't decided on any sort of reward for doing all of this, but I wanna make it somewhat fun for myself. If it's all just clinical and boring, I'm not gonna be so motivated to take care of myself.