I could lay out statics about how many live after cancer because they got a mammogram. I could tell you about how many die because they never got one, but I won’t. No one likes the yearly test. Who would? You are made to take off your shirt and bra while they put your breast in a machine. The machine squishes you while you stand completely still. It’s uncomfortable. Many don’t even bother with the mammogram. Some say they don’t have the time, others say they don’t want to know what it will find. Getting the yearly test done can catch cancer in the early stages and save your life. It saved mine.
In April of 2018 I had my yearly mammogram done. A day or so afterwards they called to tell me they found something. I burst in tears and called my husband. The next step was a biopsy. Sure, it was a long uncomfortable process, but necessary. The process took two hours. The hardest part was waiting for the results. I waited a week to be told I have a mass and some calcification with cancer. They asked me what surgeon I’d like to see, and the tears filled my eyes.
It seems like an awful process, but without a mammogram I would have never known I had cancer. Without a simple, uncomfortable test, the cancer could have grown and spread. It could have spread into different parts of my body. I don’t know about you, but the thought of an awful disease using my body as a place to fester is even scarier than knowing I have cancer. My cancer was found because of the test and it’s in stage 0 and 1, the earliest stages.
I met with a surgeon who explained cancer to my husband and me. Much of what he told me was overwhelming and hard to remember, but what I did remember was I had a cancer that can be spread by estrogen. I was only 44. I had a few years before menopause so that meant I had years where estrogen could spread the cancer. If I didn’t get the test by the time I found out the mass could have grown and the cancer could have spread. Spread to my other breast, to my bones, lungs and who knows where else. Without a mammogram I would have found out by becoming sick. By then it might have been too late to treat it. Since I got a mammogram and found it early I didn’t have to have chemotherapy instead I have to take a pill to block my estrogen.
I also got gene testing done and found out I have a gene mutation called BRCA 2. This causes breast, ovarian, prostate and skin cancer. I had to decide to have my breasts, my ovaries and tubes removed. Since I have the gene and it can be passed through the family. I can save my family members from getting cancer by educating them about the gene and they can take extra precautions and get tested. By knowing I can hopefully save a family member from getting cancer or give them a chance to catch it sooner.
Yes, cancer is a scary disease, but if caught early enough it is treatable. Don’t skip the yearly mammogram. For your sake and your family’s sake get that uncomfortable test done. If you value your life and want to live a long life, you’ll take care of yourself and do those yearly mammograms. The annoying tests weren’t made just to torture you, they have a purpose. A purpose to find an awful disease before it becomes out of control. There is a chance you may never get cancer, but it always a good idea to keep a watchful eye.
For me a mammogram saved my life. I am now four years cancer free and proud of it. I stand in the light of recovery as a survivor.