Overly dramatic, some would say. But if you were a woman, getting your ‘girls’ squeezed to almost nothing while the edge of a fibreglass plate kind of bites onto your chest, at the same time that you are trying to stand still, you will completely agree with the title of this blog. Specially if they inform you that after your regular mammogram, they ask you to come back to take more images. Of course, at this point, the pain or discomfort of the actual test is the least of your worries. Your mind is probably preoccupied with the ‘whys’ of the recall while your heart is doing somersaults in your chest.
Let’s back up a bit.
You’re a golden girl now and your doctor gives you a requisition to get a routine mammogram test. You’ve heard a lot of horror stories about it. Some of your friends have even developed a mild phobia because it hurt so much. However, your doctor wants you to get the test done and have some sort of baseline for future references.
If you are one of those ladies who isn’t as well endowed as others, then you have to be brave. Picture yourself trying to pinch an arm, but the person is so skinny there’s barely any fat, let alone muscles that you can hold on to. Well, it’s the same principle. Not to say that if you are well endowed, you wouldn’t be feeling anything. It is just more challenging for women who aren’t as well blessed in that department as others. Having said this, don’t let the fear of having the test done stop you from going.
You’ve gathered enough courage and you go have the test. Hmmm…it isn’t that bad. Well, it’s not a good feeling, but getting your blood drawn for laboratory tests isn’t fun either. You get on with life and go about your daily business.
A few days later, you get a phone call from the Diagnostic Center asking you to come back because they need to take more images. It isn’t a good feeling taking that call. The memory of your girls being squished flat is still fairly fresh in your mind. Although, the stress of worrying about all the possibilities and reasons for your recall weighs heavily and leaves you no choice but to go back and have it done. The discomfort of the actual testing is all but forgotten and you schedule another appointment.
You should know that the earlier you find out whether there is something in there to be concerned about or not, the better are your chances of beating it. Vigilant women who get tested regularly have better chances of finding out early. The choices they are given may be easier and, in some cases, won’t even be needing chemotherapy. Patients could find themselves being sent home on the same day as their surgery which is completed within a short amount of time. They may require some form of radiation and hormonal treatments after, depending on the biopsy results. But otherwise, it’s all good. All they need to do after is to have regular check ups and testing to prevent possible recurrences. It goes without saying that even catching it in this early stage, the stress of actually hearing the doctor say, “I’m sorry, Miss or Mrs. so and so, but the biopsy results show that you indeed have cancer” still causes stress to the patient. Let’s face it, hearing the word ‘cancer’ alone causes a lot of people anxiety.
Some women don’t find out about it until it’s in a more advanced stage. This could be a variety of different reasons such as not having regular mammograms done, ignoring symptoms, failure to do breast check ups regularly. By the time they get tested, they could be requiring chemotherapy aside from surgery and radiation, depending on how big the lump is, the age of the patient, family history and the results of the biopsy. Different doctors approach treatments in various ways and may be based on the well being and attitude of the patient as well.
In the end, it all boils down to the fact that, if women would let the discomfort or even pain the mammogram causes stop them from getting the test done, then the chances of catching it early and having better choices for treatments will pass them by.
To all the women out there: It’s okay to have a dramatic reaction when you need a mammogram. But, don’t let the drama influence your decision to get the test done. GO! Have that mammogram done! It might save your life!