We are about to get personal here, so get ready.
October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As many of you know, I worked for the American Cancer Society for seven years, so I came to know professionally and personally how important this month is for a woman's health.
Today, let's talk about mammograms. The American Cancer Society, and my own physician, recommends that healthy women with no family history of breast cancer start getting annual mammograms at age 40. Actually, I had my first one at age 36 because my doctor wanted some images on file to compare with, when I did turn 40. I've just had my third mammogram this year.
Let me address the reputation of mammograms. I've always heard that they are painful and most women dread having one done. In my experience, this annual visit is no more unpleasant than a routine trip to the dentist. I've never dreaded it, or had a painful experience. Granted, with all the tugging and smashing, I'm sure it's a little more unpleasant for my smaller-chested friends. Bonus for the big-boobed ladies, I guess!
The whole mammogram visit literally takes about 20 minutes. It's over and done, with results coming in the mail about a week later. Better to get checked out than avoid it and have to find out about a problem when it's too advanced.
Which leads me to my next point. DO NOT PUT IT OFF! Ladies, I beg you. My sweet mother-in-law went for her very first mammogram when she was the ripe old age of 70. Yes, SEVENTY! And guess what they found? Breast cancer. She told me once that she never had a mammogram sooner because she didn't think she needed one. She battled that cancer on and off for seven years, before it finally got the best of her. I can't help but wonder if her quality of life would have been better if she'd had regular mammograms.
Here's one thing I learned from my work at ACS; mark your calendar for every October. Start your mammograms now, this month, so you will never forget. Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the month of your mammogram. Do it now, for your loved ones and for yourself. If you are afraid, call me; I will go with you.
Here is a great article called 7 Things to Know About Getting a Mammogram, that will tell you what you need to prepare for.