Friday, October 17, 2008
Breast Cancer Awareness Month - I Did My Thing
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.