October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to learn about the risks women (and men) face. But while these facts can be frightening, there are reasons for optimism as well. When breast cancer is diagnosed early and treated, survival rates can be near 100 percent. That is why regular screenings and quality treatment are critical to the millions of women who will be diagnosed in their lifetimes.
To kick off this important month, we are taking a look back at Kathy Trainor’s award winning blog post from October 2014, “Flatten Out For Your Health,” which stresses the importance of yearly mammograms.
By: Kathy Trainor
For most women, the word “mammogram” elicits the following thoughts:
- I’m too young
- I really don’t want to do this
- I know I need to do it
I fall under 1…2… and 3.
I’m only in my thirties and even though most professionals will say that you don’t need a mammogram until you’re at least 40, I go every year. I really don’t like to go, but I suck it up and do it anyways. I flatten out for my health.
You’re probably wondering why I take my mammograms so seriously. It’s because breast cancer seems to be all around me. Besides recently having a very close friend who had a double mastectomy, my mom’s family has a long history of breast cancer. For this reason, the women in my family are watched very carefully. My grandmother was only in her thirties when she died of breast cancer. So, for my 21st birthday, instead of taking me out for my first drink, my mom took me for my first mammogram.
I was young, scared, and very rude about the whole day. I hated to have to skip deodorant. I hated that my mom was with me (I was 21- I could have driven myself!) I hated the cold, dark room and I hated how violated I felt when the woman grabbed a handful of my breast and put it on a cold, dark table and photographed me.
I remember sitting there and thinking, “I’m fine! I don’t even know why I need to do this. I’m not even going to hear anything back about my results.”
Then it happened, one week after my mammogram I got a phone call fro the doctor. “We need you to come back in for a follow up mammogram. We have a few concerns.” I called my mom in a panic. Now, I needed her there. Now, I understood why my mom had wanted me to go get checked so young.
We sat in front of my doctor and she explained that the tissue in my breast was causing them cancer. It wasn’t cancer, but we would need to do a biopsy to get a better idea if we were looking at pre-cancerous tissue or just dense breast tissue.
I was in tears by the time we finished speaking with the doctor. I was so thankful that my mom was there and I was mad that I had been immature about something as minor as a mammogram. I got my biopsy and my second mammogram, and within one month’s time I met with the doctor again.
Thankfully, I was ok for now and the pre-cancerous tissue didn’t need surgery. She informed me that due to my family history I am at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. I will need a yearly breast mammogram and lab work. We agreed and we understood that I was healthy for now, but that my health could change at any time. Now, I make it one of my top priorities to have a mammogram every year.
I challenge all women to get your monogram TODAY. It could save your life.