It’s Personal, But Important

It’s a rather personal subject, but I think women should talk about it. Getting mammograms.

I had my first one, and it wasn’t bad. At all.

When I arrived to the radiology office, I was asked to put on a gown. I was a little nervous because I really didn’t know what to expect. You could tell the woman who was about to perform my tests had done it thousands of times. It wasn’t awkward for her and she almost expected the same from me. I timidly asked if it was going to hurt. And, that opened up a great conservation, to the point it felt like I was in and out of there in a matter of minutes.

She told me it would be a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt. “Oh,” I said. “I’ve always heard it hurts.” The x-ray tech then told me that she thinks that myth started way back when…

She believes that when older women came in for their exams, they were painfully shy about someone else seeing them naked and handling their breasts. This older generation of women rarely showed themselves to even their husbands, and so standing totally exposed before a complete stranger was a horrific experience. It made sense to me.

But, other than just standing there in an awkward position and feeling pressure on my breasts, the whole experience was not any more painful than getting a teeth cleaning. And it dawned on me that women should talk more about it and encourage our friends to get mammograms. Moreover, we should dispel the myth that they hurt.

It’s recommended that women over 40 get a mammogram annually. Unfortunately, if you’re under 40, insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the exam. That is nuts to me. Women of any age can get breast cancer. Why wouldn’t we want more women (and men) to be pro-active and increase their chances of catching any sign of cancer early?

According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and is the leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop breast cancer. It is not preventable, but it is survivable.

With that said,  if you’re over 40 and you haven’t had a mammogram, GET ONE! If you’re under 40 and want to be pro-active, talk to your doctor. The woman who performed my x-ray told me the reason it’s not recommended women under 35 get a mammogram is because breasts are still so dense at that age. But, if you have a history of breast cancer in your family or you detect any lumps, you should definitely inquire about getting a mammogram. It could be life-saving.

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