I recently took the plunge and got my very first mammogram. Although I don’t fit the recommended age, I urged my doctor for a referral because breast cancer has been in my family. LADIES: YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO THIS. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS TO EVERY RULE. I’M JUST SAYING IN!!!!!
Before you go, there are some important rules you must follow:
1.) No deodorant, creams/lotions or powder can be worn in the chest area because it may show up on the x-ray and be considered questionable. Because of this, it is recommended to make your appointment in the morning. (You don’t want to walk around deodorant-less all day. NOT A GOOD LOOK or SMELL)
2.) Most offices will require you to have a photo I.D., insurance card and doctor referral form. Make sure you have these important documents with you.
I had put off scheduling a mammogram but knew that I really needed to be serious about my health and go, especially since breast cancer has affected my family. It took some convincing for my doctor to give me a referral but my persistence has paid off and I finally have an appointment. I was in and out rather quickly (about 20-30 minutes) and the procedure was pretty simple. When I arrived, I was asked to fill out standard paper work (name, address, etc.) and before I knew it, I was whisked away to a small dressing area. I was asked to undress and place on a hospital gown with the opening in the front for easy access to my chest.
From there I went into a room with a radiologic technician who proceeded to take x-rays of each breast. Her cheery disposition was enough to make anybody feel at ease. I stood in front of a special machine and was told to keep still and not move.
The technician proceed to place my breast (first the right and then the left) on a shelf or what they refer to as a platform. My individual breast was then in between two plates and the top plate squeezed down. This compresses your breast for a clear image without using a lot of radiation. It’s uncomfortable but it does NOT hurt. It only last approximately 20-30 seconds. (Four different times; two pictures for the right and two pictures for the left). My mom warned me that my “girls” would be squeezed but it’s really nothing. I have worn bras all day that caused more discomfort.
In the office I was in, you could see the image of your breast on a screen and the technician explained exactly what I was looking at. It was very interesting to see the inside of you – fat layers, muscles and all.
My hair kept getting in the way. NOTE TO SELF: Pull back your hair if your locks are longer than ear/neck length.
My friendly technician then proceeded to explain to me that it’s not uncommon for "first timers" to have to return for additional images. These reasons can range from your doctor/radiologist not having other images to compare your x-rays to or you may have very dense tissue that needs a second look. In these cases, most of the time dense tissue is a result of cysts and are commonly benign.
Before I could get my clothes back on, the doctor was calling me to discuss my X-ray. I was literally in and out in about 20 minutes and most of that time was spent sitting in the waiting room waiting to be called.
Darling Nikki’s Breast Cancer Awareness Recommendations:
1. Don’t forget to conduct self-exams EVERY MONTH no matter what your age.
2. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, do not wait until the allotted age to get an exam. Talk to your doctor for a referral. Don’t put it off!
3. Don’t be alarmed if your X-ray results state you must come back for additional images.
This is common for first time patients.
4. Abide by the rules and do not wear deodorant, creams/lotions or powder of any kind in the chest area until AFTER your appointment.
5. Remember to schedule your appointment by doing it the same time each year. October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) or your birthday month are two months that are easy to remember.
Your health is worth 20 minutes of your time! Schedule your Mammogram NOW! At the very least, don’t forget your monthly self-exams!
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