It is October and with it comes Breast Cancer Awareness. I had my first mammogram shortly after my 40th birthday. The mammogram for me is not too bad and I often wonder if that is because of my masochist leanings. I mean it can get uncomfortable but not painful yet the techs apologize and explain that it will hurt before it happens. I have heard horror stories about mammograms but all my techs have been so nice and very thoughtful with what they are doing to you. They know it is an invasion and that it is uncomfortable so try to do everything they can to minimize the experience. If you aren't having that kind of experience when you get a mammogram, talk to your doctor about it and find other options but don't just skip a mammogram because of staff being rude or it hurts too much...which I have heard some women do.
I have unfortunately always had flat breasts so I feel like they are trying to make me into a pancake. The machine is basically two flat blocks of plexiglass looking material. You stand next to it and then lay one breast between them and it then compresses down on it like a vice grip. I have really sensitive skin so I get abrasive marks from the rubbing of the blocks on my skin so I just lotion them when I get home and that helps. It is just a lot of pressure and as I said it uncomfortable but I wouldn't call it really painful. It is done to each breast and then here the tech takes a look over the images quickly to make sure things are clear and then if they are - I am sent on my way.
My very first test they noticed some calcium deposits so I was called back in 3 months later and then after that every 6 months for 2 years.
From the Mayo Clinic about calcium deposits: "They appear as white spots or flecks on a mammogram and are usually so small that you can't feel them. Breast calcifications can be seen on mammograms performed in most women and are especially prevalent after menopause. Although breast calcifications are usually noncancerous (benign), certain patterns of calcifications — such as tight clusters with irregular shapes — may indicate breast cancer."
Although I haven't went through menopause yet - I had calcifications flecked here and there in my breast tissue but there was one cluster - small cluster not too close together but close enough that they wanted to keep an eye on it. They didn't consider them to be suspicious enough to do a biopsy but just to keep monitoring it. So basically my first 2 years of mammograms were done every 6 months. And I am very happy to say they didn't change shape or grow tighter together so they just feel it is how with that breast.
It was scary of course - not knowing. Each time they came back with lets do another 6 month check up I was thankful they wanted to keep such a close eye on it but also worried that it was another 6 month check up. They of course continue to monitor my calcium deposits but now it is done yearly and if anything were to look different I know I would be in there again more frequently but I am thankful that things look good/the same.
I will continue to get my yearly mammogram. I do think it is important to do self-tests too and to go to the doctor right away if anything feels different.
I am going to share this website because I feel it is important and beautiful: The Scar Project. They say "Breast Cancer isn't a Pink Ribbon" and although I get what they mean I also believe in raising awareness and pink ribbons have done the job.
So many great websites have been doing all they can to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. Eden Fantasys is one of those websites - they just did a contest and they also have all of their Evolved toys 25% off and are donating part of the profits to Breast Cancer Research.