A few months ago at my annual exam, my lady parts doc told me that I needed to have a mammogram. “WHY?” I said, confused. “Because I am almost 40?” “Yes,” she replied.
I was stunned, but I went home and made the appointment for just a few days later.
The next day, I started doing some research about what to expect, and found a pretty cool YouTube video. I thought it might be helpful to other people, so I shared it on Facebook. I was not prepared for what came next. Almost 40 comments. Support, stories, survivors. A comment about how uncomfortable it would be. I DID NOT need to read that, and also, why would someone say that? But, more than a few women brought up the idea of instead having a thermogram, to reduce the exposure to radiation. A thermogram is a test that uses an infrared camera to detect heat patterns and blood flow in body tissues.
If you know me, I am someone who tends to follow a more holistic approach to my health. So, this totally threw me for a loop. I cancelled the mammogram, so I could look into this more. As I dug more and more, I became more and more confused. So, I did what anyone would do. NOTHING. 4 whole months.
A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to get back to this and make a damn decision already. Thermogram or mammogram. I read this article, which was very informative. You guys, days went by and I was still completely unsure what to do. Total decision fatigue. So, instead of letting 4 more months go by, I decided to have a mammogram as a baseline, and leave the idea of a thermogram for next year. Phew!! I called on Tuesday, October 1st (ironically the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month), and was given an appointment for 2 days later. Surely not enough time to worry and panic. WRONG. I was having a bit of breast tenderness and was sure this was going to be super painful. When my daughter accidentally elbowed me in the boob the night before, I freaked out and told my husband I needed to probably cancel the appointment. He told me to “stop putting it off and just go already” and I may or may not have invited him to see how it would feel to go stick his balls in a waffle maker. I was totally calm.
Surprisingly, I felt good about everything that morning. HAHA! Silly, girl. The calm before the shitstorm. I arrived to my appointment on time, and did not wait long. The tech came to get me and she was probably 24. I was mad at her because she didnt have to do this for probably another 15 years.
She was all business, with no time to waste. She asked me to step up to the machine. At chest height was what I would describe as a clear, plastic tv tray, with a pancake press 8 inches above. She wanted me to drop the bitties on that. This may have been one of the most akward moments of my life. I freaked out, and started to cry. I was so worried about the pain, and so embarrassed about that! She was so sweet, and offered me tissues. I pulled myself together – barely, so she could start. I will spare you the details. But – it is quick, and not that painful. We women do a lot more shit that is a lot harder than this.
Now, I had to go wait for results. Results? Oh yes, the test was looking for something. I was so overwhelmed by how uncomfortable this might be, that I barely considered what might come after. Again, I didnt wait long, maybe one whole minute to freak out again, before I heard my name called. “Have a seat.” GULP! I turned to see my breasts on her screen. “You definitely have dense breasts, so I am glad you came, but I see nothing of concern at all. You are all clear.”
Huge sigh of relief.
This is not a breast cancer awareness message. This is a women’s self-care awareness message. Don’t do the things because you are scared. Do your research, trust your gut, grab a friend and get over yourself. I am so glad I didn’t let the fear of a little discomfort stop me. I decided to make a decision that was right for me, and stick to it. Just GO!