Breast Cancer Awareness Isn’t Just for October

I saw a story about a Good Morning America reporter who got her first mammogram because her producer suggested taping it for the show. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and is preparing to have a double mastectomy. What a reminder of the importance of taking our health screenings seriously! Because of that story, I decided to repost my own story, as I wrote it in two separate Facebook “notes.”

“My First Mammogram…A Public Service Announcement my way…” (originally posted October 17, 2008)

Okay, so technically I’m not old enough to need a mammogram, but 1.) You’re supposed to start at 35, and that’s next year for me, so yeh, whatever & 2.) Because of my family history, I become an automatic candidate regardless of my age.

What does a mammogram feel like? You know how you accidentally slam a finger in the door and snatch it out and suck on it (like that’s going to ease the pain)? Well, a mammogram is kind of like slamming your finger in a door…except it’s not your finger…and you don’t get to pull it out of the large mechanical vice that has a hold on you. So I guess it’s not really like slamming your finger in the door at all.

The moment I remember the most was after the tech had successfully squashed my womanhood into the aforementioned large mechanical vice, she goes over to the controls to take the x-ray and says, “Hold your breath.” It was then that I realized I’d already stopped breathing…and wasn’t sure that I COULD breathe if I tried!

So, ladies, don’t let anybody tell you that a mammogram isn’t painful. Now I’m sure it’s got nothing on something like, oh, let’s say childbirth or a root canal, but it’s definitely no walk in the park, either. BUT, it’s not a very long procedure, AND it can save your life. If you don’t believe me, ask my mother. 🙂

P.S. Ladies, consider this your reminder to be current with your mammos. Guys, I added you because I want you to make sure that the women in your life get their mammos! (And my brother suggested that I point out that men can get breast cancer, too…)

“Read & take heed” (originally posted October 29, 2008)

Most of you all have already heard my story about how, earlier this year, I became a high risk candidate for Breast Cancer (because of family history) and how I got my first mammogram a year early as a result. What I didn’t tell you was that I got a letter a few days after the mammogram telling me that there was a “finding” that needed further investigation. For almost a week, I went through my regular routine, but the letter was always in the back of my mind along with a big fat question mark.

What if?

I explored both options. Maybe I had cancer, maybe I didn’t. Either way, I knew that I’d be at peace with the situation. But I still wondered.

What would it be like? Would things change? How would they change?

Did I pray? Yes. But the only thing I could pray was “Thy will be done.” Yes, a diagnosis of Breast Cancer could be God’s will. No, I didn’t want that, but I have learned enough this year to know that a diagnosis is not the end. It would not mean that God was any less almighty. I knew that I would trust Him, regardless of what happened.

This morning, I went back for my follow up tests…and I saw the original x-rays for myself. There was clearly an area of concern. That’s when I really started to worry. They took the requested x-rays and took the films to the radiologist for review. He requested more images. Then I went on for an ultrasound and listened to one tech point out the areas of concern to the other. My worry level went up another few notches. Then they were done.

I went on with the rest of my day, trusting God and wondering all at once. Around 8:45 p.m., my doctor called. I was suddenly transported back in time to the night my mother’s doctor called her and told her she needed her to come into the office to talk about the results of her mammograms/ultrasound/biopsy. As my doctor talked, I froze in place, and I’m sure I held my breath. I didn’t want anything to distract me from hearing what he had to say. And what did he say?

Negative!

I’m so open with this because I hope that my experiences will help someone else. So I’ll leave you with this. While I waited in the hospital between tests, I spoke with a woman who was there for an annual mammogram. She was a Breast Cancer survivor who’d had a double mastectomy. The time between her last mammogram and her diagnosis? Fifteen years.

Yes, mammograms are painful (not just uncomfortable, but painful), but they can save lives. Don’t put it off. Ladies, take care of your business. Men, make sure the women in your life stay current with their annual exams.

As always, be encouraged & encourage someone else!

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