Ladies, it is SO important to take care of your health, and getting an annual mammogram for you lovelies 40+ is recommended by the American Cancer Society. For those of you who have put it off because you are worried about the experience, I can assure you the process is a bit uncomfortable (I mean your boobs are smooshed and flattened out!) but not terrible. I consider myself a knowledgeable lady, as at 42 I’ve had at least 8 already. As I’m writing to an audience of moms, I can safely say you’ve probably handled more painful things in your life.
More than the annual screening, I also encourage you to make sure you get to know your breasts (well hello there!) and give yourself a feel each month with a self-breast exam. Not sure how to do this? Breastcancer.org has a great step-by-step guide. If you feel something, get it checked by your doctor! If you a feel a lump, your doctor will order a diagnostic mammogram for you, so they can take pictures of the area to get a better look.
Mammograms can quite literally save your life. They can detect cancer up to two years sooner than your doctor could detect during an exam. Caught in it’s early stages, the five year survival rate for breast cancer is 99%. Breast cancer found in later stages has a considerably lower five year survival rate of around 27%, according to John Hopkins. As I write out those statistics, I felt a lump in my throat forming, as the reality of those numbers really sinks into my bones.
This year, breast cancer awareness month has slapped me in the face. As I type away on the keyboard, I’m waiting for the results of a biopsy done a few days ago on my left breast. I’ve been through a previous (benign) biopsy about 8 years ago, and I wish I could tell you I’m calm, cool, and collected because I’ve been here before. I’m not. The waiting is torture. I’ve had to remind myself not to go down that rabbit hole of what-ifs right now, as I don’t have enough information to freak out yet. What does give me reassurance is the fact that I have been getting regular mammograms, and the likelihood is high if this IS indeed cancer, I’ve caught it earlier rather than later.
I know the pandemic has complicated health care, but ladies, please don’t put this off. If you are over 40 you don’t need an order from your doctor for a screening mammogram. Don’t have insurance, or did you lose your insurance as a result of the pandemic? There are plenty of places in and around the metro Atlanta area that do mammograms for low or no-cost. Click this link to check out where free or low-cost mammograms are done; just choose your city or closest city to find participating hospitals or clinics. Do it for your health. Do it for your peace of mind.