THE IMPORTANCE OF A MAMMOGRAM

How many of you women put off a mammogram? I totally get it. The test can be uncomfortable. No one wants a stranger touching her breasts and smashing them into a machine. It’s no fun, but did you know about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12.4%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime?  (From Breastcancer.org: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics). Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women, and if caught early, is the most treatable. If left untreated, it can be deadly. There is a chance you’ll never get cancer, but why play with the risk? Aren’t your health, quality of life, and future important? Aren’t you important?

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When I got diagnosed with breast cancer, many of my friends and even customers I wait on told me they’ve never had a mammogram. I asked my friends “Why not?” One said she has enough health problems to have to worry about, another one stated she doesn’t want to know, and another told me she doesn’t have the time. I was stunned. I figured everyone automatically got the test done once she turns 40. I got mine done without hesitation once I turned of age. My mom told me how uncomfortable it would be and she was right. But I’m glad I continued to get my mammograms, because that’s how my cancer was detected.

I performed self-exams before getting my yearly tests, but never felt anything. Even after I was diagnosed, I felt my breast to see if somehow I missed the mass, but I still felt nothing. When I met with the surgeon, he performed an exam and told me he couldn’t feel it because the mass was hidden under tissue and fat. The only way the cancer could be found was by a mammogram.

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I started thinking, what would have happened if I was one of those people who never got a mammogram? How badly would my cancer have spread? The type of cancer I had was spread by hormones like estrogen. I’m only 44. Not menopausal yet. I’m still young. If I didn’t get that uncomfortable, test my hormones would have spread it throughout my body and could have led to an early death, but since I got a mammogram, the cancer was caught in the early stages. I don’t have to go through chemotherapy or radiation. Far as I’m concerned that awful test saved my life.

Yes, I choose to get a bilateral mastectomy because I have the BRCA 2 gene, but that was a decision I made to prevent myself from getting any more cancers. The BRCA gene mutation causes breast, ovarian, and skin cancer. I wanted this to be my last struggle with breast cancer. I want to protect myself from getting a more serious cancer. I want to stand at my husband’s side for many years and I want to watch my nieces and nephews and great nieces grow up.

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If you have a chance to try and protect yourself from getting a disease that could lead you to a miserable death, wouldn’t you take it? Getting a yearly mammogram is one of the things you can do to keep you from dying miserably. I’ve talked to people who had stage 3 and 4 breast cancer and had it treated and are living happily cancer free. Some of them found a mass on their own and many had that yearly mammogram. Don’t play with your health; get that uncomfortable test done. Chances are you may never get cancer, but remember 1 in 8 do get cancer. What if you’re the 1? Wouldn’t you want to catch it early and live a happy life after treatment?

I think knowing is better than not knowing what’s going on in your body. There is always time to take care of yourself for you and your family. If you already have health problems, wouldn’t you also want to catch this one before it ends up being your deadliest health problem? I myself have struggled with health problems. Just last year I had a detached tendon repaired in my ankle. In the past six years I’ve had a surgery about every two years: first gallbladder, then plantar fasciitis, and then detached tendon. I was hoping not to have to have another surgery for a long time, but things happen. I’m just happy to be alive and in recovery.

Go on, get that mammogram! Do it for yourself. The best person to take care of you is you. So take care of yourself by picking up the phone and making that appointment.

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Because I got my mammogram I found my cancer early, I’m recovering from surgery and am now cancer free. I’m standing in the light of life shouting out, “I am a survivor!”

 

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