Women often avoid talking about a certain topic. Which one? Well it’s not going to the gynecologist, but it kind of related. This time, I am referring to getting a mammogram. Doctors keep changing when a baseline should be performed and how often screenings should be done after that point, so it important to talk to YOUR doctor for guidelines. Today I am sharing my journey.
Last year, I went to see my gynecologist and was given homework. I love her and followed her when she went to a new practice. It isn’t every day that you have someone you love, trust, and respect who also knows way more about some body parts of yours than you do. At that last visit, she told me that I needed to get some homework done and get back to her. She wanted to know more about the breast cancer that is on my father’s side of the family tree. I have written about my Aunt S many times before. She was diagnosed with breast cancer almost nine years ago just before NHL was born.
What I did not know was much about Mimi’s mother. My great grandmother passed away from breast cancer when Mimi and Aunt T were very young. What I found out was my great grandmother was actually younger than me when she was diagnosed and she passed away at my current age. For those keeping score, I am 35 years old. In April I called my doctor’s office to inquire about things. I figured if my appointment was in May, I would go in April to get the mammogram done before. They sent me a script because they were requesting it be done early with my family history. It arrived while I was packing to go to Disney World. The script may or may not be in Orlando right now.
I never had a chance to call and my appointment was canceled twice. Finally, I was able to get in to see the NP in the office while both of the boys were still in school. She did not seem as worried about the family history, but agreed a baseline would be good. She gave me a script and told me to walk down to the hall to the Breast Center. If I was lucky, they may be able to do a walk in. So I grabbed my things, made another appointment for next year, and walked to check about a mammogram.
Much to my surprise, they were able to do it at that moment. They were about to head out to a meeting, but said that they would do mine quickly before going. Ten minutes later, I was in the dressing room putting on my new stylish shirt with easy access to the girls.
I went into the waiting area near there and a few minutes later I was called back into the room by a technician. I wish I had gotten her name she was awesome. I explained why I wanted to take some photos. I was inspired to do this thanks to Robyn and her post about getting a mammogram. The technician thought it was a brilliant idea. Before starting, she asked me if I had any powder, deodorant, or anything else on. Since this was not planned, I did put on deodorant that morning, so I was given some wipes to make sure to remove it.
Then, it was time to begin and the technician immediately put me at ease. She explained everything step by step, helped me to position myself so I was not on my toes as much, and was sweet chatting with me. Before I knew it, the mammogram was over and I was ready to get dressed and head home.
So did it hurt? Not for me, but I have heard that for women not as “blessed” with cleavage it is more uncomfortable. For me, the hardest part was holding my breath while standing on my tippy toes and being squished. Seriously, that was the worst in my mind. Still it is a small price to pay IF it will find something that I otherwise would not know about. Just over a week later, I heard back that my mammogram was normal. Now if all goes well, I can wait five years for my next one.
So I beg you, if you have breast cancer in your family, noticed something strange on your self-breast exam, or are 40+ years old – PLEASE talk to your doctor about when you should start having your mammograms done.
P.S. A special thank you to Robyn for inspiring me to document this to share with others. Her posts several years ago really had an impact on me. Oh and Rene, I told you I was not waiting and holding back.