Getting A Mammogram (or I Guess This Was A Rite Of Passage)

When my mom tested negative for the breast cancer gene mutation, I figured that I didn’t have to do anything. My only concern was if she tested positive to get myself tested to see if I had the mutation.

But my mom’s geneticist did say that I needed to still be monitored a bit more carefully throughout my life. While my mom’s cancer is most likely a post-menopause cancer, the extra monitoring started this past weekend.

Earlier this month, I had my annual appointment with my gynecologist. She was actually one of my dad’s residents (have I ever mentioned that my dad used to be an OB/GYN and he was in charge of training all the residents in his department?) so she’s known my family for a long time. And when I saw her last year, it was right after my mom’s surgery but before too much else was done. So she knew that I would be coming in to this appointment with a lot more information.

I relayed all the important information to my doctor and then told her how my mom’s geneticist wanted me to get a mammogram this year. Even though my mom’s cancer is post-menopausal, my parents thought (and I kind of agree) that this mammogram was kind of to cover the doctors’ butts and so they could say that they did extra monitoring of me. But my doctor was more than willing to write in the order for the test and I went home that day with the phone number to set up my appointment.

I managed to get an appointment for this past Sunday (who knew they did mammograms 7 days a week?!?), and I was so nervous. I searched the internet for how to prepare for a mammogram and I bugged my mom about how much it was going to hurt. I know that she tried to prepare me the best she could.

When I go to the hospital on Sunday, the first thing I got was my hospital bracelet.

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I didn’t understand why I needed a bracelet, but later my mom said that it was because the person who checks you in for the appointment is not in the same area as the technician who does the mammogram. This way, nobody can pretend to be you.

I waited about 10 minutes and tried to read my book, but again, my nerves were getting the best of me. Finally it was my turn to head back to the room and I faced the mammogram machine.

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I swear that it looked scarier in person.

I then had to undress from the waist up (note to anyone who hasn’t gone for a mammogram yet: don’t wear a dress to your appointment) and then it was time to get squished.

And I’m not going to lie.

It hurt.

I was warned that because I’m young and have bigger breasts, I have more tissue and not only might it hurt more, I might have to go in for a repeat mammogram another time to make sure they get a clear picture.

The pain was not where I expected it. The squishing part actually wasn’t too horrible. But because of how you have to fit into the machine, the skin near my collarbone hurt so badly that my eyes teared up!

The mammogram was 4 different views (2 on each side). And I had to do 3 of them a second time right then and there because they didn’t get a good picture (I still don’t know if I have to go in for an entirely new appointment yet). But after about 10 minutes I was done.

While getting dressed again I noticed that I was starting to get bruises all over my chest (I bruise pretty easily to begin with). They only got uglier looking throughout the day. I’d put a picture of my bruises on here but I really don’t feel the need to post a topless photo on a public blog. Fortunately, the bruises are all almost gone now.

If I have to go in again for a repeat mammogram, I’m supposed to find out in the next week or so. If everything looks good, I’ll get a letter within a month.

I don’t know if I get the letter saying that everything is good if that means I don’t have to get another mammogram for another 9 years. Nobody really seemed to know the answer to that, but I’ll see what comes up as a health reminder on my profile on the Kaiser website.

If I have to go back next year, I’ll do it. It’s so important to be checked out and to make sure everything is ok (even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer).

But the next time I go, I’m totally taking a painkiller before I go so it doesn’t hurt so much.

One response to “Getting A Mammogram (or I Guess This Was A Rite Of Passage)

  1. Good for you! I remember my first mammogram, and had a nearly identical experience. The first time is the worst because you don’t know what to expect.

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