Mamas, be sure to have your mammograms as discussed with your doctor. I’m sharing what to learn from my mammogram story so you can be inspired to stay on top of your health. Early detection saves lives!
“I heard mammograms hurt.” This is what I often hear from women when we discuss breast cancer and mammograms. Many times this statement is uttered from women who are past due for their first screening mammogram – meaning they are over the age of 40. I make a point to tell them having a mammogram is not a bad experience at all. There is a good amount of pressure applied in order to take clear x-rays but it is tolerable. It’s simply a must that you have your mammogram. Furthermore, early detection saves lives. If there is a problem, you want to find out about it as soon as possible.
I had my first mammogram at age 28 back in 2006. It was a diagnostic mammogram meaning I noticed a problem with my breast that had to be checked out. My mammogram was followed up by an ultrasound as an extra precaution. Thank God all was well. I simply had an errant milk duct as I had had a baby 3 years earlier.
My mother is a breast cancer survivor. Being that she was first diagnosed at the age of 28, my first mammogram should have taken place when I was 18 years old. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, “if you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.” I did not know that at the time and neither did my mother. So please educate yourself and be aware about your health in all areas.
In 2013, at age 35, I had my first screening mammogram. It detected a lump and so I had to return for further tests which included a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. Those tests required further testing meaning that I had to return for a third time to have a needle biopsy. The doctors wanted to be sure that the lump was not malignant. I’m glad that they were very precise in their work. Thankfully, once again, there was no problem – the lump was benign.
I should have not waited so long after I’d had my initial diagnostic mammogram at age 28 as I should have them every year due to my family history. Really, I can’t tell you why I waited so long. There is no good explanation for it. However, in 2013, I did make a commitment to myself to have one every year and I’m currently on track.
What to Learn from My Mammogram Story
Make the commitment for yourself to have a mammogram. According to the American Cancer Society, women over age 40 should have a mammogram every year. As I mentioned earlier, if you are younger than 40 but have a first degree relative (i.e., mother, daughter, or sister) who had breast cancer before the age of 50, you should consider having a mammogram sooner. Men also can get breast cancer. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your screening options and when you should have your mammogram.
Every month you should perform a breast self exam. Choose the same day every month to remain consistent and that is easy to remember. For women who still have menses, pick a day several days after your menstrual cycle when your breasts are less sensitive. When you have your annual gynecological exam, you should expect your doctor to perform a clinical breast exam. This is also a great time to ask any questions you may have concerning your breast health.
Talk to your doctor. Ask questions. Take control of your health.
To learn more about mammograms or breast cancer in general, the American Cancer Society website is a great place to start.
*This site is for informational purposes only and does not offer medical advice or replaces the advice of a medical professional.*
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