M.A.M.M.O.G.R.A.M. It’s something most women dread and put off as long as possible. Add in the COVID pandemic, and now you have another “excuse” to skip any extra doctor appointments. But Michelle and I wanted to assure you they really are not that bad (I’ve had several), and once you get past your own nerves, you’ll realize you took an active role in safeguarding your health and will be so grateful you crossed that off your list, no matter the results. So Michelle stepped up to share her experience with her first mammogram, and encourage you to get yours too.
Here’s what she wrote:
I went to UCI Health Pacific Breast Care. The service was amazing. Everyone was nice and I got the results that day!
What a nerve racking time, my first mammogram. It was something I always dreaded and was scared to do. Why was I scared? All I ever heard was how much it hurt and how uncomfortable it was from tons of women.
When my gynecologist first gave me orders to get a procedure it was June of 2019. That day I went home and “forgot” all about the mammogram orders. Then on June 2020 when I went in for my annual woman check-up, my gynecologist looked in my chart and called me out on why I never got the mammogram. My response: “because I’m scared and I heard it hurts.” Without skipping a beat she replied “Well it’s going to hurt more if something is wrong and you could have done something about it early on.” “Fine, you win,” I replied. So I grabbed the orders and made the appointment.
My first mammogram. I was so nervous and at the same time curious. Walking into the building I could feel my heart beating and my hands sweating. I wore the necklace my father gave me and would tug on it for comfort. I checked in, did a COVID screen, and the nurse called me back. The nurse led me to a dressing room and instructed me to change into the items provided and to place my personal belongings in the locker. After I was changed I was siting in a small waiting room with other women waiting to get their mammograms. We were all quiet and some looked at the floor. I chose the window to look out of, and grasped my necklace. “Michelle” the nurse called, “that’s me” I responded. Off we went to “the room.” Once we arrived, I saw the machine. “Is this it? Is this the machine that’s going to turn my boob into a pancake and make my eyes water from pain?” The nurse laughed and said “it’s going to test you and make sure everything is going well.” The nurse then gave me instructions on how to stand, where to place my arm, and reminded me to breathe. She then placed me in position and talked to me about what would happen. As the machine started to close I realized it was going down. The moment I dreaded was here and all I could do was close my eyes and breathe. As the machine squeezed my boob I realized “it’s not that bad, this is easy.” What the heck was I thinking not doing this… I happily handed the nurse my other boob and said “go for it, I got this!”
Once the testing was over the nurse led me to another room. This room had coffee, teas, bright colors and bright lights. The nurse said “the doctor will be with you shortly with your results. It was the longest 20 minutes. I thought about if something came up on my test how would I feel and what would I do. I also thought if it was clear I would celebrate with champagne at home. The doctor walked in and said “you’re good, they look great, keep up the good work.”
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, we hope this story inspires you to get your mammogram and not to let the fear of the test overpower you. Awareness and knowledge give you the opportunity to have a chance.