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Monday, March 31, 2014

My first mammogram

A Selfie before the mammogram

Everyone who knows me is aware that I am an advocate for healthy living. Does that mean I always make healthy choices? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that even when I make poor or unwise decisions, I don’t let it keep me down and I keep trekking forward. I truly believe everything in moderation and this helps me maintain my lifestyle. There is one area of my life that I have been negligent about and that is my breast health. Yes, I know better and quite frankly there is no logical reason but I have put off getting a mammogram for the last nine or ten years.

I’ve made up various reasons for not having a mammogram like “My insurance might not cover it.” This is a lie, insurance will cover it because it is preventative and a baseline mammogram is extraordinarily important if there ever is a problem.  “Going to have my mammogram is out of my way and I just can’t find the time” Another lie. I travel miles and miles to do things on a daily basis. I simply did not make this aspect of my health a priority. My doctor gave me an order last year and although I saw him several times while I recovered from surgery and could have scheduled my mammogram which takes place in his office building, I never did. And finally, “I don’t have insurance” This was true for about a year or so but there are so many options for free and low cost mammograms, I truly had no excuse.

When I think hard about it, I believe that ultimately because breast cancer has impacted so many people I know, just thinking about the possibility for myself, however remote, kept me from having a mammogram.  This type of thinking is silly and I know better. I’ve personally advocated for the necessity of mammograms, I am a member of the American Cancer Society Bloggers Council and I’ve raised money running and walking for research and prevention. But, I put it off. Despite watching my roommate in South Africa battle and win the fight against breast cancer over a year ago. Despite the mother of one of my closest friends battling and winning the same fight. Despite one of my good friends battling and winning as well. And despite the deaths of a friend who died before she left her 20s and my “auntie” who died without being treated because it was too far gone.

My stories are not unusual.  I know I am not alone. I know the importance of early detection and having a baseline. But I put it off. Many women, especially black women fall into the same trap. According to the CDC, breast cancer is the leading cause of death for black women 45-64 in the United States. I know I don’t want to be a part of that statistic and having my baseline will help in the event that I have any problems in the future.

Quite frankly, I didn’t feel any trepidation about it when I arrived. The technician was excellent, she talked to me the entire time and explained everything that happened during the procedure. My breasts did get smashed and likely looked like pancakes but I didn’t bother to peek and since it wasn’t painful I was fine. I’d say there was some discomfort because it is quite rare to have your boobs smooshed in varying angles but it was quick and easy.

Overall, I am happy I took this step to safeguard my health and if you are a woman of a certain age, I encourage you to do so too!

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