Last week I had my annual mammogram.
It’s not a fun day by any stretch of the imagination.
I know that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Being in New England where the temps are pretty chilly, I was already cold when I arrived for my appointment. I was asked to change into once of those little cotton hospital tops that has about 15 hanging strings that somehow tie together. I didn’t have the patience or the energy so I just left the top wide open. There’s not a modest bone left in my body after birthing children.
When I was called into the exam room I was shivering. Nerves. Cold.
The lovely woman (she’s always so incredibly pleasant-right?) introduced herself. My chest became play dough as she spent time arranging it perfectly on the machine. She then let me know that I would hear a beep once the x-ray machine was where it needed to be. If I couldn’t stand the pressure on my chest she assured me that it would be OK to ask her to stop. But then she reminded me that if I made it to the beep the x-rays would probably turn out better. After hearing that, I knew that I had to suck it up and wait for the beep. I was willing to endure the pain if there was a lesser likelihood that I would have to come back for more x-rays.
When that beep finally came “STOP(or @#%^!)” was on the tip of my tongue. It was all I could stand. She asked me to hold my breath while she took the x-ray, but I already was.
She took two x-rays, one on each side, and then I managed to ask if most people make it to the beep. She laughed and said “No honey, they don’t. ” She then said “Personally, I’ve never made it to the beep.” I didn’t feel like Superwoman. I just wanted to get out of there.
Two more x-rays with the beep and I was sent on my way.
I’ve been to two different types of mammogram centers- those that give you the results that day and those that don’t. This was the latter.
Why I Get a Mammogram
Getting a mammogram is scary stuff. We all know someone who’s had breast cancer. Someone close.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
- About 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 62,570 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer
Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 1/3 since 1990 through early detection.
It has saved the lives of many women in my life and for that I’m truly grateful.
That’s why I get a mammogram and you should too.
Beyond the Mammogram
Breast cancer prevention begins with making educated decisions about what goes in or on our bodies. Our cosmetics, personal care products and food are all places where toxic chemicals can be hiding. Taking the time to read labels and ask questions is so important. The burden is on us to find safe products. Together we need to help shape public policy so that it focuses on prevention for all.
We assume that chemicals used to make ordinary products are tested for safety — but they are not. Our current laws are outdated and not doing their job. We need our government’s help. It’s time to get tough on toxic chemicals.
There’s a lot that needs to happen before women, men and children no longer have to worry about cancer and other diseases. We’ve seen the power of our collective voices. I have no doubt that together we can make this happen.
Do you have an annual mammogram? Tell me more……