While yearly mammograms after age 40 are a necessary evil for most women, my indoctrination into intense breast care began in my early 30s thanks to genetically lumpy lady parts. I try to be upbeat about these exams because keeping track of what’s going on inside my body is just as important as understanding what I see on the surface.
Getting a Jump on Breast Screening
I had my first breast ultrasound at 28 when I was practically flat-chested. The “nothing” then turned into a palpable lump at 34, and I reluctantly entered the Land of Mammogramdom. My first experience with the big, mean squishing machine came after a more problematic ultrasound scared my tech enough to get me an immediate appointment down the hall. We’re talking five minutes later, to be exact.
The Mammogram Experience
The imaging exam left a lot to be desired, despite the rosy half-gowns and pink ribbon décor. While everyone’s mammogram experience is different, there’s one constant: that machine will smash the daylights out of the girls. But trust me, they’ll plump right back up, and the temporary discomfort will fade.
If you’re new to the drill, expect to be met by a friendly technician with hopelessly cold hands. As you stand semi-naked from the waist up, she’ll lift and maneuver your precious femaleness against a glass plate, then, with the press of a button, flatten your breast into a pancake against yet another glass plate. By the way, you’ll need to hold your breath while the machine takes the picture. Then again, how could you not?
Oh, So Many Angles
Many years have passed since that first experience, but I rarely escape my yearly mammogram with the standard four images (two vertical and two horizontal). Nope. My breasts are camera hogs. They want extra takes and close-ups. Not once have I left a facility with less than seven pictures and the lingering sense that I should promise to call the tech and have coffee. After all, we did share something … intimate.
With Age Comes Wisdom and Humor
Although I sound as though I’m whining about this simple procedure that’s meant to save our lives, I’m actually grateful. Both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, and I had a (thankfully) benign biopsy in my 30s, so I’m diligent. Since then, I’ve also learned that my girls are “heterogeneously dense,” which means mammograms aren’t effective enough on their own at detecting breast cancer. So, take my advice and get your squish on. They’re your breasts, after all.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Tracy from Team Reflect
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