I had my very first mammogram last Wednesday.
I'm 36, so it was my baseline mammogram. The technician pretty much scared me to death. She said almost everyone is called back after their first mammogram because every single little speck is looked at to be sure you are clear and good. Then, if all goes well, you don't have to come back until you are 40. At that point, if anything shows up, they can go back to the baseline and see how it's changed.
Sounds corny, but I consider it a one of life's passages, something that once seemed so far away, but now it's passed.
I remember days my mother would have to go in for her mammogram, she dreaded it so. She'd talk about how uncomfortable it was and honestly, it scared me to think I'd have to endure the procedure one day.
Honestly, I'd been dreading it for so long, but knew if I didn't have it done before I went to my next annual check-up, I would be sure to hear it from my Dr. And no one likes a lecture from their doctor. I fished the referral document from the depths of my purse and called the clinic to schedule an appointment. I thought, hey, maybe they can fit me in this month, maybe not. I'm OK with whatever. When the receptionist responded, "Want to come in tomorrow?" I paused. No, I don't want to come in tomorrow, that is too soon - and totally doesn't give me enough time to mentally prepare for this.
So I said, "How about something next week?" Sure, something next week - that would give me time to e-mail my closest friends and tell them I was taking the big step. They'd e-mail me back and say "yep, I really need to do that too" or "it's not as bad as everyone says."
The thought of my breast being flattened like a pancake was certainly not something I was looking forward to. But, I did it, I survived and no one told me I wasn't supposed to wear deodarent. And I did remember to shave, so one point for me.
It wasn't as bad as I thought, and it shouldn't be something that is so dreaded. It saves lives. It gives us a chance to fight that ugly monster we call cancer. It gives us just a little bit of control over what's happening inside, which feels good to me.
Yes, I did get the letter that they saw something a bit off, and I have another appointment this Friday. But as the technician said, it's pretty common to get called back, and I'm not nervous about it. My mom, on the other hand, e-mailed, called and texted me numerous times this morning to remind me to schedule that follow up appointment (as moms do).
So what's my point? (And I do have one)
If you're putting it off, don't.
If you're wanting to take control of your health, do.
If you've heard stories of how bad it is,
think about how bad it can be.
And that's pretty much it.
*The American Cancer Society recommends that a woman obtain her first baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 to 40. After the age of 40, she should receive a yearly mammogram.