Bam! Bam! Mammogram!

| September 27, 2013 | 9 Comments

Photo credit: Christiana Care / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Christiana Care / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Have you had the squishy breast test? Are you afraid of it? Hiding from it? Wondering about it?

I have wondered for a long time why the Mammogram can’t be developed as a “better” test. My rationale, as for a lot of things, is that we continually put people on the moon yet we still have procedures that hurt or as many medical professionals like to say “may feel uncomfortable.” This is medical lingo for it might hurt, it will hurt, or it always hurts for people like you.

I’ve had 2 mammograms now. Just standard ones. When I turned 40 I was worrying about things and I think partly to soothe me, my physician sent me for one even though I didn’t have any symptoms of anything and current health guidelines indicate age 50 as the year to start getting squishy. But my nerves, coupled with little family history and not enough women in my family living long enough to experience any cancers, led to my visit.

I didn’t want to go. I know, I kind of asked for it but then I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to (warning-major whiny alert) go to a strange place, negotiate parking, wait in line, have my privacy invaded, wear a paper gown and oh, get my breasts squished. I’m not sure I would have even made it to the appointment if a good friend hadn’t insisted on escorting me. She picked me up and drove me there and waited. She knew me too well. Knew that if I had to wait past my appointment time or someone was rude, that I might just up and leave. She was my gatekeeper and I am glad that I had her with me.

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous and stressed, I think more of the unknown than anything, but I completed and survived the test. It was not fully unpleasant but at the same time it was not pleasant. I will say that the technicians make the experience what it is. I didn’t realize this big machine would be so close to me that I would almost have to hug it and that my breast would have to be set on a shelf and then compressed. Yes, compressed until you think it cannot compress anymore. Was it extremely painful? No. Did it hurt and feel weird? Somewhat. As I mentioned earlier, I think not knowing what to expect was the most stressful part of this first experience.

Fast forward a few years and it’s time for another one. I’m not happy. I have it in my head that it’s going to hurt and that I don’t need to go and technically, I don’t need to go but I know I should. So I wait a bit, a month or two, before making my appointment. And then I go. This time I bring my own robe. The paper top made for shorter women did not cut it last time and this was one thing I could control and this made me feel better. I was called in on time and told the technician that I had apprehension and that I would try my best to not hyperventilate. It seems that for someone who never experienced claustrophobia in the past, now was my time…sigh.

Photo credit: Army Medicine / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Army Medicine / Foter / CC BY

I asked my technician why I couldn’t just have the fancy ultrasound that I’ve heard about. She said that the mammogram can pick up things, especially very early signs, like calcification and stuff in the breasts, that the ultrasound won’t pick up. She mentioned that the ultrasounds are used and needed but not to replace the mammogram.

My technician, her name was Liz, was awesome. She listened to me and explained things and then we got to work. It was kind of like setting a stage. Propping things and checking angles, all quiet on the set and then lights, camera, action and after four takes we were finished.

I left quite proud of myself. I conquered a fear. I went alone and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I anticipated that it would. I followed all the instructions about when to go according to cycles and what not to eat or drink that may make things easier i.e. caffeine, and it all seemed to help.

I went out to celebrate by stopping by a favourite shop for a new outfit and a fancy vendor dog lunch with a friend on the benches of Westboro!

If you need a mammogram or have been putting off getting one and feel you need it, just do it! Don’t not go out of fear. Other reasons may make sense but fear is not one. You will be glad you did and if you don’t realize how important it can be, remember they do save lives. I was reminded of this by the woman in front of me in line. Being the social being that I am, we started chatting and I mentioned my lack of joy at being there and she looked me in the eyes and said, “do it honey, I’m living proof that tests and early detection saves lives. I’ve had cancer twice and a heart attack.” As I stood there speechless and feeling a bit sheepish she looked up at me again and said, “you have the most beautiful eyes.” I said thank you and we wished each other well as we moved forward in line and suddenly, my eyes were seeing things a bit more clearly.

Author’s Note: This was not written to advocate mammograms or to start a debate on whether they are necessary tests. I purposely did not link to any articles in this regard as I want this post to stay as it is-my experience with a mammogram.

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Category: Family, Health, Moms, Wellness

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Comments (9)

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  1. Sarah says:

    Good for you for conquering your fear and taking care of yourself!!

  2. VMChick says:

    Great blog! Good for you for conquering your fears 🙂

  3. Lynn M says:

    I just turned 40yrs old this year and I know I have to go get one,still nervous about it but I know it is something that needs to be done.Breast cancer runs on my fathers side,my cousin had passed away 2yrs ago from complications resulting after her mastectomy.

  4. Lola says:

    Lynn, I think it’s the unknown that is stressful. I don’t know where you are but if you are in Ottawa, go to Merivale Imaging. The technicians are so caring and helpful and let you be in charge:) Keep me posted!

  5. I too asked if I could have an ultrasound, but alas, was told the same, mammograms pick up so much more. As it turned out, my mammogram showed an anomaly and I did end up having an ultrasound, and then another mammogram. Thankfully all was okay.

    If you are called for a mammogram, go for one. It hurts, but I would rather suffer that pain then the pain of cancer.

  6. Brenda A. says:

    It is so important to keep talking about breast health so thanks for posting. Your experiences can help others!

  7. Victoria Ess says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Conquering this fear and looking out for your health is definitely something to celebrate.

  8. kathy downey says:

    Conquering your fear is very hard I am so happy for you

  9. Treen Goodwin says:

    awesome job , we all need to Conquer our fears 🙂 proud of you 🙂

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