Dislcosure :: our Breast Cancer Awareness Series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
Upon my annual visit with my gynecologist at age 35, he handed over orders for me to get a mammogram. The first thought I had was “Wait a minute, I’m not old enough to need a mammogram!!!” I was in complete denial. When I asked him why, he said that given my family history, he wanted to check just in case.
Of course, being intimidated by the mammogram and the news it could hold, I held off on going for a few months until I went in for my one year follow up after the birth of my son. He asked why I never had my mammogram, and I was honest. I told him that I was scared of the pain and the possibility of a negative outcome. When he told me it was the best way to have something to compare when I turned 40, and that it could detect the very early stages of breast cancer, I set my fears aside and scheduled my appointment.
Believe it or not, the process was incredibly easy. The imaging center offered hours that worked with my work schedule, and I was able to stop in on my drive home. I handed off the orders, signed off on the insurance paperwork (it was covered 100%!), and I was sent to a room to change into a robe. When I made my appointment for the mammogram, I was advised to not wear deodorant or perfume. Once I was changed, waist up, into the robe, I sat patiently and waited for a few minutes before the technician came in to take the images.
The technician was a woman and she was very kind and reassuring. I think she could tell it was my first mammogram. She talked me through the images she was taking and told me what to expect as she took each image of my breast tissue. The worst part was trying to raise my arm enough to get the part of the breast that is nearest to my armpit; that was the only part that was significantly painful and it didn’t even hurt that much. I’d compare the pain to maybe a long squeeze of your skin and a little achy like a mild headache.
After she took all of the images, I got dressed and I was able to leave. She advised that my doctor would call me with any information in a few days. The whole process literally took less than an hour, and as I drove home that day, I wondered why I had put it off for almost a year because it certainly was not that big of a deal and it could be life saving! Of course, now I had to wait for the results … during that time, I was relieved to have had it done, but in the back of my mind, I was concerned about what those results would show.
Just a few days later, I got a phone call from my doctor reassuring me that all was okay and that my mammogram didn’t show anything of concern. It was then that I had overwhelming feelings of relief! He then advised that my next one would likely be around my 40th birthday. And just like that, I got over my fear to get a mammogram.
I guess what I am trying to tell you is that from experience, getting a mammogram really isn’t a big deal, especially when you consider the thought that it could catch breast cancer early enough to get rid of it easily and quickly. And before you think “It couldn’t happen to me, I’m only 40!” – just know that it can. Just recently (as in just a few months ago), I had a friend who is now having chemo to treat breast cancer at the age of 40.