Today I did something most women my age have not done . . . I had my first mammogram.
Because my mom was diagnosed at 47 doctors had long recommended that I start early screenings at the age of 30. When her breast cancer metastasized the doctors insisted upon it. However, I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last two years and this is the first week since my 30th birthday that I was allowed to be screened. I made the first appointment available.
Since I am one of the first of my friends to have a mammogram let me demystify it for you. It's NO BIG DEAL. After a long (very long) wait in the radiology waiting room I was called into the back. Asked to change out of my shirt and bra and put on a hospital gown. I was taken into a room where I stood in front of a large machine with two plates. The technician positioned each breast, one at a time, between the plates -- squeezed and took a 3 second image. She reangled the machine to get a cross-section image and repeated. There was no pain. There was barely enough time for discomfort to register. She sent me to go change back into my clothes and off I went
A couple years ago I would have been embarrassed, modest. But let's be honest - after two children all modesty is gone and more people have probably seen my breasts than I care to aknowldege.
The actual mammogram was the easy part. Now comes the hard part. Waiting to get the all clear from the radiologist.
I have a fear -- actually I don't think that is the right word. I have a feeling that I will, one day, face breast cancer. Maybe it is my anxious tendencies, but deep down, I feel this is a battle I will face. So while some women may go into their screenings with the expectation of getting an "all clear" I went into today's screening with the expectation of their being a problem. This is why my mom hated it -- I'm sure. This is why she put off her mammograms. The fear that something would be amiss.
All that being said, early detection is what gave my mom the chance to live many years after her first diagnosis. So unlike my mom, every year I will make an appointment for my yearly mammogram at the first opportunity because every second counts in the fight for your life!