Thursday, October 20, 2011

My First Mammogram

Mammogram. It's a word that up until now never bothered me. I've been a strong supporter of breast cancer awareness for 10 years, between stories I would produce for CBS to raising funds through the 3 day, 60 mile Avon walk. "Monthly self breast exams" and "early detection is the key" have become ingrained in me.

Until this week, that was honestly all information for someone else--not me. But since I am turning 40 next month, it was time for me to get my first baseline mammogram. I have no cause for concern, no lumps that worry me; it's just something I need to add to my list of routine healthcare.

So I made an appointment at the Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center. With insurance it should be free, and I was in an out within an hour. The paperwork and questions were straight-forward. I tried to lighten the air with answers like this.

Nurse: "Do you have any breast implants?"
Me: "If I do, I should really get my money back because they're missing!"
Nurse: "Are you breast feeding?"
Me: "No, these girls worked for 4 years breast feeding and are taking a well earned retirement."

Another woman and I went into the dressing rooms together, but we were escorted to two different waiting rooms. My mammogram was just a "screening" one and hers was a "diagnostic" one. I don't know the specifics of how the procedures differ, but I was secretly thankful to be going into my room.

The procedure itself was awkward, not painful. It's along the lines of how dental x-rays feel when they stick that cardboard in your mouth except this time a nurse is physically smooshing your ta-ta's. They took four pictures within five minutes, and I should have the results within a week.

The one unexpected surprise during this visit was running into a dear friend, Gabrielle. She blogged about her experience here. My heart sank when she asked, "Did you find a lump TOO?" I didn't like hearing that she had to go through the diagnostic procedure, wondering what if... Thankfully, it was nothing abnormal and she's fine.

As I think back on my experience, I'm grateful we have tools today to help ease our minds or get us ready for battle. For me, I'm hoping for an "all clear." For Gabrielle, she can rest easy for now. But for hundreds of women every day, a mammogram's results will signal, "Now it's time to fight." During October, which has quickly become known as Breast Cancer Awareness month, I encourage you to seize the tools available to us so that you too can remain powerful through knowledge. And if you can participate in the 5K Race for the Cure, it's this Saturday.

If you care to share your story or link to a blog where you talked about early detection or fighting breast cancer, please leave a comment.

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