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So I’m 10 Years Late for My Mammography

By |2018-05-06T10:49:00-04:00August 1st, 2017|Categories: Women’s Health|Tags: , |

By Wendy Reizer

Pondering procrastination

I don’t know why it took me so long to get my first mammogram. I keep trying to figure out why I procrastinated for more than 10 years past the recommended baseline screening age. I don’t think it was fear. And it certainly wasn’t modesty. I honestly think it boiled down to simply not making it a priority. Somehow the work projects, hair appointments, and carpools kept shoving it to the bottom of the TO DO list. That’s just crazy. One out of eight women get breast cancer. There is a proven way to detect it early and I’m putting a hair appointment first.

It’s not like I didn’t have prescriptions written for me over the years. I did. But most of them wound up crumpled in my purse or lost in a file folder marked IMPORTANT (obviously not that important).

So what got me to finally do it?

It was two things: my own hypocrisy and love of my daughter. I’ll address hypocrisy first. I’m a health and wellness marketing specialist. I read about it, write about it, and have a collection of wellness and prevention books that may very well rival Barnes and Noble’s. I have subscriptions to Yoga JournalPreventionSelfWomen’s Health, and I’m certified to teach yoga. How can I keep urging women to get screened for breast cancer when I haven’t done it myself?

Now, we come to my daughter. I am a single mother with one child. It’s always been just her and me and we’re extremely close. She is now a sophomore in college. On a trip home, while sitting on the couch watching TV together, she turned and looked at me and said, “I really miss you mom. I love you so much and I can’t imagine my life without you.”

That did it.

Not only was I a hypocrite, I was selfish. I imagined how my daughter would feel if I wasn’t there at her wedding or to welcome her first child someday. It was thinking about how sad that would make her that finally made me make an appointment—and keep it.

Getting a mammogram

I decided to get my mammography at the Star and Barry Tobias Women’s Health Center at CentraState Medical Center. Yes, I’m familiar with the hospital, but what sold me was the fact that the Center offers radiologists specially trained in reading mammograms.

The day before the screening, it dawned on me that I had a big deductible on my insurance plan (which I wasn’t even close to having used up). I thought, “Here I go again. I’m going to have to cancel. I can’t pay for this.” But I called my insurance company and found out prevention screenings, including a mammography, are covered despite the deductible. Ok, back in business.

So now it’s the day of the screening and I’m at the Women’s Health Center in the main reception area. The staff is very nice and the Center itself is very pretty and spa-like. I’m sent to a relaxation area where I’m given a heated robe to change into. Love that perk! In a few minutes, the technician comes in and takes me into the examination room. The technician is very friendly and calmly explains, in detail, everything that is happening. Once the screening is over, she takes me back to the changing area.

Mammogram complete.

I get a call the next morning from the nurse and she tells me that the mammogram revealed some lumpiness and density in my left breast, so they want to do a follow-up ultrasound.

OK, I say to myself. Nothing to worry about—I’ve had cystic breasts since I was a teenager.

I get the ultrasound and when the technician is done she tells me she is leaving for a few minutes to review the film with the physician.

Now it hits.

My cavalier attitude gives way to anxiety and then to a weird combination of fear, regret and imagining myself going through the ordeal of surgery and chemotherapy treatments. Why did I wait so long? What was I thinking? This is going to be so hurtful to my friends and family and, most important, my daughter. Who will take care of the dogs? These are the random thoughts that assault me during what feels like two hours, when in reality it’s just two minutes. The technician comes back in and says everything is fine, that I have a complex cyst and it’s nothing to worry about it. I just need to come back in six months for a routine follow up.

Relief. Followed by a few tension-releasing tears.

My epiphany

Now, I can’t even fathom not getting screened. This peace of mind is too precious.

I no longer feel like a hypocrite when I say, “Mammograms save lives. And they’re available to everyone. Do it for you. Do it for those you love.”

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