I am 36 years old and this morning, I had my first mammogram. I am one and one half years late in doing this. I needed to get a baseline at age 35 because of the history of cancer in my family. I procrastinated because it didn't seem urgent to me and because of how much hype I heard about the discomfort.
I was being stupid and potentially risking my life. That is not okay.
From the Susan G. Komen Foundation:
Women who partner with women and lesbians do have a greater risk of breast cancer than other women, but it is not because of their sexual orientation. Rather, it is because some risk factors for breast cancer and barriers for breast cancer detection – never having had children and not seeing a doctor on a regular basis — occur more often in lesbians.
There's a link between regular reproductive health services and breast exams/mammograms. Because we are less likely to have children, we may not get routine care and, hence, may miss early detection.
So this morning, I toddled off the AGH Cancer Center. I must say it was a very comfortable office and the staff were excellent. I waited less than 10 minutes before I was gowned and ready to go. The technician took the time to explain everything to me and was very gentle walking me step by step through the process.
It was not painful. The pressure during most of the exam was awkward, but the technician explained that they have to flatten our breasts as much as possible to view all the tissue. The truly uncomfortable part was the side shot which involved some leaning and flattening and grasping of a handle. But, truth to be told, it was just about as comfortable as my yearly vaginal exam. It is absolutely more comfortable than dying of breast cancer.
I'm all clear. So now I go back at age 40 and then once a year from that point forward.
Don't be like me and procrastinate. I've made a point to bring it up with every woman I've encountered today. Over 50% told me they haven't kept current on mammograms.
Don't be like us. Call your gyne or your PCP and get going. I want you to come back and read this blog often. I plan to still be here at age 40 and tell you all about my next mammogram. Will you be able to tell me about yours?