Statistics show that breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in Australia and as we all know early detection is vital to improve survival rates. Having a school mum lose her battle with cancer last week, combined with the fact that I will turn 47 soon, prompted me to organize my first mammogram appointment, and that appointment was yesterday.
Miss 8 was vomiting during the night so couldn’t go to school and the older girls had a pupil free day so I considered calling to change my appointment to another day, because I am a big chicken and any excuse would do! But then I decided to put my big girls pants on and just get up there and do it!
My appointment was through Breast Screen Australia at my local Myer store. There were a few forms to complete when I got there, then just a short wait until my name was called. Being my first mammogram the female radiographer explained the process in detail and then it was time to remove my clothing from the waist up and get into position.
They take two xrays of each breast, first one of each breast from the side and then one of each breast from the top. It was explained to me that the more that the breast can be flattened out the less radiation that will be required to get through the tissue and it also restricts your movement and with that, the plates of the mammogram machine squished my boobs til they resembled pancakes, It is literally only a few seconds of compression and then your breast is released. Thankfully, I didn’t feel any pain which may well be due to the fact that my boobs have worked over time feeding 5 kids and are now sad saggy shadows of their former pre-baby selves! I did read a tip that you could take over the counter pain relief before your mammogram to help combat any pain (but you should double check this with your doctor to make sure). The staff are wonderful and are able to alleviate any feelings of awkwardness which you would expect in having a stranger manipulating your breasts into unnatural positions.
And so within approximately 15 minutes it was all over and I was free to go! The radiographer explained that in approximately 60% of cases with first timers there may be a recall. This is not necessarily reason for concern but is more related to the fact that there is no existing images of your breasts for comparison so they have to be thorough and further investigate anything that they are not sure about.
My first mammogram done and dusted and it really was nowhere near as bad as I had imagined it to be. In a few weeks I will receive a letter with the results and if all is good then I will have my next mammogram in 2 years time. You will be advised not to wear any deodorant, antiperspirant, perfume, creams, lotions or powders as these can adversely affect your screening results. And personally I found it easier to wear a crop top style sports bra and pants and a top for ease of undressing and dressing.
This post is just my experience with a mammogram and I understand that everybody will have different experiences. Breast Screen Australia offer free mammograms to women aged 40 to 74. From age 40-50 you will need to remember to book in every 2 years yourself, but once you are over 50 you will be on their system and will be reminded when your next mammogram is due. Visit their website or call them on 13 20 50 for further information. I found them extremely helpful during my initial phone call so you really should get in touch with them.
Linking up with Kylie from kyliepurtell.com for #IBOT
So tell me how was your first mammogram experience? If you haven’t had one yet please make sure you do it very soon as early detection is the key.