After waking up a few nights in a row with a bit of pain or aches in my breasts I decided it was time to go to the doctor for my first mammogram. My new doctor was surprised that I had never had one done previously. My old doctor didn't think I needed to get one done before turning 40 since I didn't have family history of breast cancer so I never pushed it.
My physician asked me what kind of pain it was and I said it ached and it ached enough for me to wake up at night because of it. She performed an exam in the office and felt "ripples" so she thought I should have not only the mammogram but the ultrasound as well.
I just thought, this might be the day that my life will change forever.
A week later I had an appointment at a Breast Care Center. I walked in and was greeted by a receptionist at the front desk. She asked me to complete paperwork that took about 10 minutes, then I was called to the back. I sat in a room after changing into a gown from the waist up. I sat for about 30-40 minutes in this room alongside 8 other women, mostly older and all looked very nervous. One woman was called up at a time. They left and I didn't see them come back while I was waiting in the room. I did however see women coming into the room and grabbing their personal belongings from the locker they stored them in. They were happy and talkative. Very different than the rest of us that sat waiting to be called in. I just thought, this might be the day that my life will change forever. The room was cold...the woman were quiet...I thought, it may have been easier to not know or at least not for another week so that I could get through my work week and vacation coming up. Then it was my turn.
I walked into the exam room with the X-ray machine that would determine my days going forward. The X-ray tech was cold (not personable), she simply gave me instructions on how to stand and insert my breasts while she moved the press heavily onto each one. It was painful. Snapshot after snapshot, until the last picture where she told me I could step back and sign an additional form. The form said the clinic would not be held liable for not finding what could be a tumor because I have implants which could hide them. After I signed it, she walked out and all of the fears came rushing back. After 5 minutes she came in and asked for a few more pictures. So a few more were taken and afterwards I was alone again.
She walked back in about 10 minutes later and asked me to follow her to the ultrasound room where I met with another technician. She proceeded to tell me to lay on the bed for my next exam. After 15 min of reviewing the monitor, which was turned toward me so I could see what she could...she took snapshots of dark circles on the screen, I noticed she would find something on one then go to the other in the same location and I felt a bit of relief seeing the same thing there. I had recently read lumps wouldn't show up symmetrically. The tech left...then came back with a doctor...she didn't say anything except her name and that she wanted to take another look at what the tech saw. A few min later, she dismissed the circles saying they were cysts. She was letting me go with a negative screening. A weight had been lifted and now I walked back into the waiting room relieved and calm.
Had I known what to expect walking into the exams, I may have spent time relaxing before my appoinment instead of coming from work; brought my headphones to listen to calming music; read up on what to expect when going for a mammogram and understand your aches/pains before scaring yourself into a potentially unnecessary mammogram.
We need educated. And we need to educate women at an earlier age.