Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Have you had your mammogram?

I did! I was working on a series of articles related to preventing breast cancer and realized I was way overdue for a mammogram. I picked up the phone, made an appointment, then went and had it done. It took ten minutes tops. I figure ten minutes out of my schedule is worth it when that ten minutes could possibly save my life, right?

Women over 40 should have a mammogram annually, while those who are at a higher risk due to family history or other risk factors should begin annual exams closer to 30. Discuss your risk and your options with your doctor.

Here’s a story for you. I was about 39 and went for a routine yearly doctor’s appointment. The night before, I had found a small “thingy,” about the size of a grain of rice, in my breast. I didn’t worry knowing I had the appointment the very next day.

The doctor did not like what he felt and wanted further testing by way of a mammogram. A baseline mammogram is always a good idea anyway, he said. He shows the examiner what your healthy breast looks like should anything out of the ordinary be found later on.

Anyway, as luck would have it, it was Breast Cancer Awareness Day at the clinic. (No, I’m not kidding.) While my friend who was watching my son became quite alarmed when I called to tell her about my imminent test, I considered myself pretty lucky. I found something and had an exam the next day. The doctor found something and was able to get me in for my test the very same day. The surgeon was available should I need a biopsy (which, thankfully, I did not), and we could take care of all of this on the same day. If there was something there, collectively we were going to find the sucker.

We never found anything, but I had my baseline mammogram in my file. Now, should anything unusual turn up, the doctor had something to compare it to.

I tell you this because it is a very simple, relatively painless test. My yearly exam is more uncomfortable than a mammography and I am a big baby when it comes to pain.

I tell you this because I lost a dear friend to complications due to breast cancer and she was only 39. She had an aggressive type of cancer, but she discovered it when she went for her mammogram.

I tell you this because a simple test can save your life.

Please check your breasts monthly and get your annual mammogram if you are over 40 or at a higher risk. A simple test can save your life.

Have you had your mammogram? If not, why not? I welcome your thoughts.

1 comment:

Jennifer Brown said...

Amen all the way! Scheduled for my baseline this year. Wholehearted believer in mams. They've saved the lives of more than one woman in my family!

Also a big supporter of Race for the Cure. Get out there, get some exercise, and potentially save a life. What more can you ask for?