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Trying to work up courage for first mammogram

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My grandma got breast cancer at age 41, so my dr is wanting me to start mammograms now that I am 36 (5yrs younger than she was when she got it). But, I am nervous. For one thing, I remember my mom getting mammograms regularly (sometimes every 6 months depending on the previous one). She had a couple of biopsies. Thankfully, she never has had breast cancer (yet). But, it is anxiety provoking to wait for all those results.

 

I just don’t want to start yet. I can feel myself getting anxious just thinking about making the appointment.

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I totally understand your apprehension..  I'm like this regarding a endoscopy and colonoscopy.  The are uncomfortable, embarrassing, invasive procedures.  My dad died of colon cancer last year and my mom had stomach cancer 6 years ago.    So with the history its time for preventative looks.  I've been trying to motivate  myself up for it but keep putting it off.  So I totally understand .  

 

 

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They’re really not that bad. I mean, a little uncomfortable, but having had a friend in her twenties with breast cancer (whose mother died of it too) I am a bigger and bigger fan of screenings when you’re higher risk.

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Great idea to have a baseline now, you'll thank yourself as you get closer to 41.   It will give you peace of mind that you've taken a peek and rec'd the all clear...if your gma had the most common form of bc, it took ten years most likely to get to the point she could detect it.  If you have any, you'll grab it at a much earlier stage..and that's good.

 

Have all three of you done genetic testing?

 

And has your doctor been looking at your Vitamin D and B12 levels?

 

 

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Here's one good reason to get the Mammograms. My wife's best friend died of Breast Cancer. 

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I found a same day walk-in mammography boutique clinic and had it done so that the anxiety couldn't build up.  All you need is a print copy of the order from your dr, or for them to fax/email it over.

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I started getting mammograms in my 30s, too. I had a lump surgically removed (it was benign) and have been getting mammograms ever since.

 

Honestly, it is very stressful because I usually get called back for further testing. However, I grit my teeth every year and just do it because I feel a responsibility to my family and myself to be as healthy as possible.

 

 

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I completely understand your anxiety over having them.  With your history it is even more scary.  However, if it makes you feel any better, I have had many of them and have found them to not be bad at all.  While they can be uncomfortable, the ladies doing mine have always been so kind and understanding.  I have been called back several times for diagnostic mammograms and know the fear that entails, last year I was in tears I was so scared when I went back for the diagnostic, the tech stopped and hugged me and reassured me that it was okay to cry and be scared.  I am fortunate that despite having to have diagnostic mammograms every 6 months last year, in January I got cleared to go one year (though next year will have to be a diagnostic as well).

 

My advice is that, if possible, go somewhere that will give you the results of a diagnostic (should you require one at some point) that day and will be given to you by the radiologist.  I have always gotten diagnostic results before leaving the office and always by the radiologist.  it is HUGELY comforting to get those results immediately and to be able to talk to the radiologist myself.  Call around and talk to the offices to see how they handle it.

 

Having a good mammography place is everything.  Being treated so kindly and with such care means everything (even during routine mammos).

 

Sending you hugs and good wishes as you walk through this the first time.  The unknown is always the hardest (to me).  Hopefully you will find a wonderful place and it will go so far in easing your fears.

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If it runs in your family to have breast cancer at a young age, I encourage you to do it.

 

I was afraid too, but it turned out to be really not a big deal.  I don't recall any pain.  A bit intrusive, sure, but it's quick and then you can chill.

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Not fun, but just do it.

 

I have a particular technician that I always schedule with. She's hilarious, and I NEVER get call-backs with her despite fibrous br**st tissue.

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Also hoping like a previous poster that you have a local place that turns out to be wonderful. I was so pleased when I went in for my first—the tech was so good at what she did, and open and helpful about the process and what it showed. She brought me over to look at the digital scans and explained what I was seeing.

 

Erica in OR

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If it's something you are really on the fence about, after you get your baseline, talk to your doctor about the possibility of every other year until you hit your 40's. The radiation factor is a real deal, and exactly how much yearly mammograms possibly contribute to the development of breast cancer is a far from settled debate.

 

I had to start in my 30's too, but I have pushed back on yearly. If I stared at 35 and had a yearly Mammo until the age at which my Mother and Grandmother would be diagnosed, that is 35+ years of concentrated radiation on my books. There is a reason other countries are pushing back on yearly mammograms by looking at the actual morbidity and mortality compared to needless biopsies and radiation exposure among other things. Canada and the UK have a different approach than the U.S. and frankly, I think their outcome numbers are better. 

 

Your doctor may tell you that it's worth the risk, and that's between you, your family, and your doctor of course. He also has liability to think about. But consider asking. There is a view in the U.S. that test, test, test, is the best and only way and it's a very U.S.-centric approach and is definitely an arguable approach when looking at outcomes. I worked in genomics for oncology and it really changed a lot of how I view things, so I am probably the opposite voice you'll hear in this thread. I think this is one area where the U.K., Europe and Canada have a more sensible approach. 

 

I do think a blood test will be available sooner than later and that will be a good thing. Also please realize, I'm not saying don't do it. I think a baseline is great. I don't think you'll find it that bad, but it is stressful and at your age, it is adding a significant amount of time when you look at cumulative radiation levels, so that's why I bring it up. 

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I am anxious every time too. My first one resulted in additional screening but turned out fine.

 

My mother had breast cancer at 35, and another type of breast cancer at 69. She died from the second round because she was too scared to have a lumped checked. :(

 

I feel like a ticking timebomb.

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I've been fortunate to always have easy mammograms with wonderful technicians and no problems.  But I've seen too many women die young from breast cancer and I always encourage women to get mammograms - even more so if there is risk.  Please do it - if not for you, then for your family.  Maybe plan a treat for yourself for when it's over.  And come here for support.  :)

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Adding my encouragement for you to make that first appointment. I will add that the initial results from my mammograms are available on the test portal generally the next day. You can ask that question for your location when you make the appointment.

 

Mammograms make me very anxious as well, but it is well worth doing - even if it is just to get a baseline recorded for the future.

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They are just a little uncomfortable, but a very important test. I agree with AK_Mom4 about getting your baseline. So very important.

When I go to have mine, I'm in and out in under 20 minutes max.

I wanted to add. Just think of your children. Do it for them.

You'll do fine; you've got this!

(Mine is already scheduled for the first week of April. I think it's the fifth or sixth time I've had it done)

 

Edited by JBJones
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Every tech I've ever had has been very quick and clear. It's way less awkward than I expected.

 

I have had a call back which caused me anxiety so now I just plan on being called back. It helps me to just assume they'll need to take another look. At my call back it was nothing but they said they don't take any chances.

 

(hugs)

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Do it!  It's a billion times easier than a colonoscopy!   :)  I began having mammograms early too, since my mother had breast cancer young (and her mother, and her grandmother, etc.).  Actually, I was relieved to be getting them!  Then I knew I was staying on top of it.  Because my breasts are apparently really dense, I also have yearly breast MRI's.  My doctor has said with those two tests, they'll catch everything absolutely as early as possible.  Early enough to make all the difference.  I believe them.  Now I don't have to worry about it!

 

And I don't know, maybe I have tough breasts or something, but it never hurts me at all -- not a bit.  And they're friendly and chat and serve me hot tea.   :)  I've had biopsies and come in for closer-look mammograms -- all of that.  It's all worth it.

Edited by J-rap
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They aren’t fun but aren’t awful either. Going to a place that is easy to deal with makes a big difference. The hospital I started with always called me back for another image due to density, every year, and then refused to schedule me for screening mammos anymore - only diagnostic - which my doc didn’t agree with, but the hospital was a total PITA so I switched. The new hospital is smaller, closer, faster, more friendly and much easier to deal with and actually uses my images from year to year to look for changes. If you don’t like the first place you go, find a better one. It really helps.

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Probably mentioned upthread already, but there are same-day-read places so you don't have to wait for results for days/weeks. Might want to call around and see if there are any in your area.

 

Also, I'm not much of a drinker but we do have a clinic that has evening appointments. I have learned to have have my husband drive me and have a small glass of wine first. Not the bravest approach, but it gets the job done.

 

Whatever the results, knowledge is power.

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I haven’t done it yet either. My b***sts are usually tender anyways, darn perimenopause. I can’t imagine having them squished. I think I’d literally cry. I’m thinking of doing thermography instead.

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I haven’t done it yet either. My b***sts are usually tender anyways, darn perimenopause. I can’t imagine having them squished. I think I’d literally cry. I’m thinking of doing thermography instead.

I really hope that doctors begin offering other testing methods soon.

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Great idea to have a baseline now, you'll thank yourself as you get closer to 41.   It will give you peace of mind that you've taken a peek and rec'd the all clear...if your gma had the most common form of bc, it took ten years most likely to get to the point she could detect it.  If you have any, you'll grab it at a much earlier stage..and that's good.

 

Have all three of you done genetic testing?

 

And has your doctor been looking at your Vitamin D and B12 levels?

 

Just curious...  Is there some link here that I should know about?

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I agree: they're not a big deal.

 

I went through several rounds of IVF and, of course, giving birth. A mammogram is done in like five minutes.

 

I remember my mom making a huge dramatic deal about it. It was silly.

 

It sounds like your real fear is in the waiting.

 

I've done medical procedures that I hate so much -- one was an MRI in a closed space no marg or med; awful -- but I do them the entire time with my children front-and-center in my mind.

 

I get enormous motivation in doing things for my kids. Your kids need you around and healthy. This is the moment to go all "adult" on yourself and get your mammo. Show those doctors how it's done.

 

That said, I'm scheduling my colonoscopy. (YUK).

 

Alley

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I was supposed to get my baseline at 40, but didn't. I had that printout of the order for quite some time . . . I should probably get another order printed and make the appointment, but it is so not on my priority list. I'll likely be like this about my colonoscopy, too, when that comes up.

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My grandma got breast cancer at age 41, so my dr is wanting me to start mammograms now that I am 36 (5yrs younger than she was when she got it). But, I am nervous. For one thing, I remember my mom getting mammograms regularly (sometimes every 6 months depending on the previous one). She had a couple of biopsies. Thankfully, she never has had breast cancer (yet). But, it is anxiety provoking to wait for all those results.

 

I just don’t want to start yet. I can feel myself getting anxious just thinking about making the appointment.

 

Were you the one talking about life insurance?  Definitely get that in order before you even schedule a mammogram.  

 

As far as the pain.....meh....I guess some people are more sensitive than others.  I have had it hurt for the 30 seconds it takes for each shot.....but I can stand just about anything for 30 seconds.

 

The part I HATE is the waiting and the call backs.  Such torture and they just way over do the call backs.  

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I had to get a baseline done in my late 30s because of family history as well.  I DREAD them.  But the actual procedure really isn't bad at all, and you can be in and out in just a few minutes.  The waiting does stink, BUT each time I get that "all clear" I feel like I can push that nagging fear back a little bit for a year.  (Of course, I still do my own monthly checks.). The few days of stress waiting for results buys me months of peace of mind.

 

I like the idea of finding a walk in place!  Walk in while you are feeling up to it and avoid the days of dread leading up to an appointment!

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