Breast health and Mammograms – we gotta do it ladies!

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Ladies, we have to take good care of our ladies! If we don’t take charge of our breast who will? A big shout out to some e-cards for the hilarious picture and quote above. I had to include it. Plus, posting pics of my breasts during my mammogram would have been a bit much ;).

For those who don’t know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. The good news is that after her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation she was cancer free! The bad news is that in January 2017 she was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer. I am not sharing this with you to make you sad rather, I am sharing this with you because I never thought that this would happen to my family. To my hardworking, loving, kind and generous mom but it did. I am sharing this with you because breast and ovarian cancers are real and, if left undiagnosed, they can be deadly. You have the power to self-check and ask for additional testing. You owe it to yourself to take good care of your body. The only body you have for this lovely-life of ours.

It has been six months since mom’s diagnosis and since I have decided to seriously take charge of my breast and ovarian health. I am currently seeing a breast cancer high-risk specialist at the General hospital (how lucky are we to have such a specialty) and undergoing different tests. One of them being the dreaded mammogram… I’d like to focus this post on my recent mammogram experience. Why, you may ask, well because if you have a family history of breast cancer this simple test can save your life. I never thought that I would have a mammogram at 32 since they aren’t recommended until the age of 50, but I am happy that I did.

Having delivered two babies both naturally and vaginally I wasn’t too worried about the mammogram being painful. Until the day of! I had asked a few people about their experiences and most said that they were uncomfortable. I was starting to worry a bit and thought maybe they were downplaying it like people downplay labour pain. I decided to google mammograms and look at pictures of the machine. Have you seen the size of those machines? They are huge. Of course, this google search only made me feel more nervous and on my drive, over to the hospital, I began to panic. Mom always said that it feels like they are squishing your breast into a pancake. That can’t be good lol I tried squishing them myself but it didn’t really hurt. Oh, I forgot to mention that I barely have any breasts at all. Like literally none. I seriously wondered how they would get them into the machine lol but they managed :).

I’ll tell ya from the start that my mammogram experience was actually quite pleasant. I am not sure if I have a high pain tolerance or if the process was painless due to my complete lack of breasts but it didn’t hurt at all. I had this awesome tech who was around my age. She was so sweet and sensitive to my current situation (since mom’s diagnosis and history was included in the referral). She took the time to explain what the terrifying machine would do and took things step by step. We actually ended up laughing a lot. I wasn’t sure she would be able to get much breast on the machine but she did and boy did she squish them like a pancake but I promise you it didn’t hurt at all. I was in and out in about 15 minutes and felt better knowing that my breasts had been scanned. These early images will allow for comparison later on in life. We are so lucky to have this technology in Canada.

So ladies, for those of you who have a history of breast cancer in their family and who’s doctor supports this decision, I highly recommend getting a mammogram done early on. It is a brief and painless appointment and may give you some piece of mind. I know that it did for me.

To my high-risk specialist. I thank you so much for taking such great care of me and sending me for this test. I feel confident moving forward that I am in good hands and that you will guide me to make the most educated decisions regarding my breast health. I will leave you with a recent picture of mom and I taken two weeks after her last chemo session. She was feeling great and we had a great visit with the family.

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Talk soon,

Ash xo

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