Did I get your attention? Good! We’re talking about boobies today. Just typing the word makes me giggle, and I’m a grown woman. Why are we talking about boobies? Because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I had my first mammogram today. Now, I could say that I did it on purpose and planned to get my first mammogram during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it would be a lie. I made the appointment 2 months ago, and this is the first appointment they could give me.
I also have to preface this by admitting that I’ve been horribly afraid of mammograms for years. I’d heard horror stories of how painful they are and how they squish your breasts the size of pancakes, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, as the King of Siam would say. So, this morning, after dropping off the babe to preschool, I showered and got ready to put on my game face. I decided to wear my Star Wars shirt, for two reasons. First, to remind me to be strong, like a Jedi. Would a Jedi be afraid of a little boobie-squooshing? I think not! Secondly, I have to admit, the girls look good in this shirt, and they’ll deserve some love after this.
I have to say that the Hill Breast Center is gorgeous! It’s a brand new(ish) facility that’s posh and clean and spacious. More chairs and sofas than any other waiting room I’ve ever seen, and a flat screen that was playing “Cirque du Soleil” while you wait.
Now, I’m going to go into detail about the experience, so if you’re a man and you don’t want to read this, check out now. If you’re a woman who’s never had a mammogram, please read. I’m hoping that my experience will help ease any fears any of you might have if you’ve never had one before. I had a few friends tell me it was or wasn’t so bad, but every other account I’ve ever read was like reading a horror story. So, hopefully my tale won’t be like that for you.
After sitting in the waiting room for just about 10 minutes, a woman came out to get me. (The receptionist at this specific place writes a description of what you’re wearing, so they can find you easily. 🙂 ) She took me back to a very nice dressing room and gave me a short – I can’t really call it a gown, because it was more like a shirt. It tied in the front, almost like a ballet sweater. She asked if I was wearing deodorant (I was) and handed me a sterile wipe to “wipe the breasts and under the arms.” Then I got to put my stuff in a locker and wait in the secondary waiting room. I was only there for about 3 minutes before I was called back.
The technician was a woman, not much older than I am. I was thankful it wasn’t a huge dude, or any dude really, because there was much handling of the boobies. She looked at my chart and asked me a few questions. Then she looked up at me and said, “First time?” I must have looked nervous. I know I felt nervous. I thought I was going to throw up when I was just parking my car in the lot for goodness’ sake. “Yeah,” I replied. She smiled at me. “I’ll be gentle.”
She basically had me get as close as humanly possible to the machine and she manipulated me a bit… picked up the breast and moved it around, trying to get as much tissue as possible, I guess. Then she stepped on the pedal and down it came. I’ve *heard* that they want to squish them down to 4cm. I can’t tell you for sure if that’s what happened, because I was too chicken to look. I didn’t want to see my breasts looking so sad, so I looked away. I will say this. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t enjoyable, but it really wasn’t bad at all.
After the first one was squished flat, she turned the machine around and did it sideways. This was a little more uncomfortable, because they took some of the muscle over the breast, toward the armpit. While I wouldn’t call it painful, it was less pleasant than the first one.
15 minutes later, I was walking out the door. My boobs didn’t stay flat. My insides didn’t squish out. It didn’t feel like a vise. Hopefully I’ll hear some good news in 7-10 days. The tech didn’t give any indication of the results to me while I was there.
So there it is. I’ve been working myself up over this for YEARS, and it really wasn’t bad at all. Not something I’d like to do every day, but really not that big of a deal.
So, if you’ve been putting off having your first mammogram, make an appointment. If you’re waiting for your doctor to order you one, call the office and tell them you want one. Period. If you’re 35 and have family history, have one now. If you don’t have family history, go at least once before you turn 40. If you’re under 35 with no family history, feel your boobies in a monthly exam. Don’t rely on your boyfriend or your husband telling you he feels anything. Do it yourself. And if you know someone who’s been putting it off, point her in my direction, or talk to her yourself.
It’s that important.