I am 41-years-old and relatively healthy. At my woman’s well visit last year, my gynecologist suggested I get my first mammogram since I was over 40. I understood the necessity and the reason. There was one issue, though: I was too terrified to go. What if they found something? What if I got called back for a biopsy? There were so many what-ifs going through my head So, I did what any typical, rational person would do: I completely avoided it.
My cousin survived breast cancer a few years ago after a long battle. I had a coworker who was diagnosed and had amastectomy and had to do radiation for 6 months. She survived it as well, but countless others have not. My aunt, for one, lost her battle after a decade of remissions and new occurrences. Another coworker of mine lost her battle months after her diagnosis. My social media timeline is filled with stories of courageous women battling breast cancer.
And yet, I was too scared to go getmy first mammogram even though I knew how extremely important it was. I knewthis was something that I needed to do. I wanted to overcome my fears so that I could make sure that I was healthy. When I went in for my annual appointment, I sat down and voiced my fears to my doctor. Listening to him made me feel a lot better and calmed my nerves. He told me that mammogram fear is pretty common and I was not the first person to feel the way that I did.
Here are five reasons why youshould get your annual mammogram:
Short and Painless Procedure
Since I had never had a mammogram,I didn’t know what to expect when I finally scheduled mine. I had an idea ofwhat happened but didn’t know too much. I watched a couple of YouTube videos beforegoing in to see what I should expect. After it was over, I left pleasantly surprised at how quick and painless a mammogram is. It can be uncomfortable, of course, since most of us aren’t used to being topless around strangers. However, the tech who helped me was knowledgeable and made the entire process quite simple.
Cancer Isn’t Always Felt Externally
In most cases, a tumor that can be felt externallycould have been seen via mammogram a long time before. By this time, the canceris growing and more likely to start spreading. Factors such as the size of a tumor, its location, density of breast tissue, etc. can make finding breast cancer via a breast exam very difficult.
Results Are Fast
In some instances, are givensame-day or even immediately following a mammogram. The imaging center that Igo to sends out letters letting you know that the results were normal. If there is something that they see that needs further investigating, they will call to make an appointment for you to come back in. Regardless, waiting long for your results is rare. It is also common to receive a call for a follow-up after your first mammogram. Since it is your first, there is not a baseline image for radiology to use for comparison.
They Can Be Life-Saving
Early detection of breast cancer iskey to survival of the disease. The earlier that cancer is detected, the lesslikely it is to have grown and spread. Putting off your mammogram runs the risk of letting cancer metastasize when it could have been seen and treated sooner.
They Offer a Huge Peace of Mind
After I received my “all clear”letter in the mail, I was so relieved. A heavy burden had been lifted and I knew that the next year, I would not have the hesitancy that I had when I went for the first time. There was no question that I was ok and even though it took a lot to get me in to have it done, it was worth it when I read that all was well.
While getting your mammogramcertainly isn’t a pleasant experience and can fuel a lot of anxiety, it is life-saving. Not getting a mammogram does not protect you against cancer, it just means that you are prolonging your treatment if you do have it. The good news is that you are in good company, as most women will have to have annual mammograms.
Misty Roussa is a Louisiana native who lives with her husband and two children. She has contributed to Red Stick Mom, The CF Foundation, and Cystic-Fibrosis.com. When she isn't writing, you can find her reading, listening to podcasts, or trying to cook something her family will enjoy.