Friday, October 17, 2008

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - I Did My Thing

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I turn 41 next month and today I finally had my first mammogram. I should have had it sooner but my referral was lost in the system. About six months or so ago, I asked my doctor about it when I saw her for something else and that's when I found out it was misplaced. So, I called immediately and it took me over six months to get in for the appointment. It's a crying shame that it has to take that long. Apparently now that I'm in the system I'll receive yearly reminders but if it takes six months for an appointment and they don't remind me until this time next year, I won't have the recommended annual exam. So, come March, if I don't hear from them, I will be calling my doctor.

I was incredibly scared about having this done. My biggest fear was that it would hurt. I've always had sensitive glands under my arms and in my chest. When I was on the pill, some forms of it exacerbated the tenderness. Luckily, I'm not at my point in my cycle right now when it is the worst. But, everyone has heard the story that having a mammogram is like getting your boob caught under the garage door so I was still fearful of the procedure. As I waited for the mammographer to prep the machine, I asked her why there wasn't an ultra sound as an alternative, being that an ultra sound would be less invasive. She said it is used but not as a first line of offense. I told her if men had to put "something" up on a cold slab and flatten the hell out of it, it would have been invented by now. She laughed, and I felt better.

The truth is that the procedure isn't all that bad. It's a little humiliating and incredibly awkward but it's far less painful than a needle stick for blood or some other trauma. I'm pretty darn sure it's far less painful than a mastectomy or chemotherapy. So, please, if you are high risk or over 40, get yours done. And, by all means, check yourself monthly.

7 comments:

Donna said...

I've been getting mammograms for years, no problem. But I'm STILL putting off the recommended colonoscopy all the doctors keep nagging me to get.

Robbie said...

I hear ya on that one Donna! For me it's the humility of it all though. I don't think it hurts - much. I remember assisting a doctor on one years ago when I was a medic in the Army. The patient received vallum or something though first. Get it done. No good taking care of the top part if the bottom goes to shit. ha-ha-ha Pun was most definitely intended.

Sydney said...

I had a partial colonoscopy a few years ago and it was NOTHING. Now, I think the full colonoscopy is far more invasive... but they give you the equivalent of a few margaritas and you are relaxed and really it's over before you know it. I picked up a friend of mine after he had his and he was amazed what a non-event it had been after years of dreading it. In case that's helpful.

Bravo Robbie, I'm glad you saw that mammo's are really nothing to fear, except for if a power outtage happens when you're smushed in there. I've been getting them every year since I was 35 -- no history of breast cancer in my fam, but if you have a chest (and I do, sigh) it's impossible to tell what's what in any self exams.

The sonograms have to get approval and are only done to try to pick up stuff that the mammo misses on either people they believe to be at risk or for women who have breast tissue that's naturally kinda fleshy... something like that. At age 45 I asked my doc to OK one just so I'd have a baseline to refer to once I entered into menopause sometime in the future, when everything in your bod can change.

Cindy said...

Good thing you finally got it done! Breast cancer is not just for the over-40 crowd anymore. My sister's cancer went undiagnosed for years with her regular mammograms (not to scare you) but the self exam and subsequent ultra-sound were ESSENTIAL to her diagnosis. She just hit her FIVE YEAR survival mark and had her chemo port removed this past week!! Take care, Robbie!! ~Phinney

http://geminiwilder.blogspot.com/

Robbie said...

Thank you for sharing Phin!! Glad to hear the great news too.

emmapeelDallas said...

I have a family history, having lost my Mom (age 75) and sister, (age 35) to breast cancer, so I'm religious about getting them done, but the insurance companies don't always make it easy. Although an annual mammogram is clearly delineated as one of the benefits in my current insurance program, that didn't keep the company from charging me and several of my colleagues for the exam. Right now, they've refunded the money to the doctor, so he's been paid twice, but I've yet to receive my refund. Needless to say, I won't get my mammo this year through work. As for the colonoscopy...I had that last year, and the worst part was definitely the preparation, drinking that liquid. Don't put that off, though. I'm in a high risk category and have to have it done every two years, despite the fact that no one else in my family has polyps.

Remo said...

Good for you! You are right - if it was part of men's exam it would probably include a cold beer and the television remote.