Turning 40: Why Getting My First Mammogram Was Such a Big Deal for Me

This is me in my hospital gown waiting to get my mammogram x-ray.
This is me in my hospital gown waiting to get my mammogram x-ray.

You are 40.6. That’s what a financial adviser told me as he was doing some retirement planning scenarios for me on the computer recently. Lamar snickered.  Lamar’s 4 years younger than me and can’t resist a good joke about my age. Especially the ones about me being a cougar. But since I’ve turned 40, he has a whole new crop of  jokes about hot flashes and menopause. It’s all in good fun though.  But what he did not find funny was me putting off scheduling the appointment for my first mammogram.

During my routine checkup appointment last year, my GYN gave me an order or referral for a mammogram.  She told me that my insurance probably would not pay for it until I turned 40….and she gave me the order and told me to make the appointment after my birthday. I took the order home and put it up in a safe place (aka..I lost it.)

After that, it seems like I used every excuse in the book not the make my appointment.  First, it was I could not find the order. Second, I could not remember the doctor’s name. And finally, I kept forgetting to stop by the doctor’s office in order to get the order. (Although I did not remember the doctor’s name…I knew where the office was.)

Finally, my mother in-law started asking me, weekly, if I had made my appointment.

Last week, I finally stopped by the doctor’s office to make the appointment.  They told me that they had open appointments all week and asked me if I wanted to come in the next day.  ” Awwwww …no,” I said.  “I’ll come on Friday.”  The last possible day of the week.  That’s when I realized that I had been stalling because I was scared.

My grandmother died of breast cancer at age 65. My most prevelant memories of her are of her fighting for her life.  She was so sick and frail..and then she died.  I didn’t even know why she died until I was a bit older. Seeing my grandmother struggle with breast cancer is the reason why I support Breast Cancer Research and fund raisers.  And I suspect that it’s the reason why I was scared to get my mammogram too.

My sister, our girls, and I are participating in the Race4Cure in DC. We walk in honor of our grandmother each year.

Fast forward to Friday, and of course I took Lamar with me to the appointment (he jokes on me, but he is also a very supportive husband!)  Unfortunately, he could not go into the back with me, and boy am I glad that he couldn’t because I was a bumbling fool back there!  Can you imagine the jokes that Lamar would have? I would never live that down.

The technician was asking me questions in order to determine my risk factor.  And I was giving all sorts of crazy answers. For instance, she asked me if I had any scars on my breasts.  And I said: ” No, no scars from my biopsy.”  Wait…what biopsy????  I’ve never had a breast biopsy. Where did that come from?  Finally, she asked: “Are you OK?”  and I said: “I’m just nervous.”

Needless to say, I survived my first mammogram.  And it didn’t even hurt (like some people told me it would.) Looking back, the way I reacted was silly.  But I know that  if I felt this way, then there are other people out there that feel the same way too.  So, hopefully they can learn from my experience, and then go make their appointment!!!

Here are a few other things that I have realized and learned from this process:

  • I was scared because the thought of leaving my family devastates me.   But with that in mind, the best thing that I can do for my family and me, is to take care of myself.
  • Mammograms detect over 85 to 90% of breast cancer. Early detection is the key.  Mammograms can detect breast cancer even before the lump forms in your breast.
  • My fear came from lack of information (and from lack of faith.) So the best thing that you can do is to empower yourself with information.  Here are some Benefits and Myths about Mammograms that I found.
  • Even though I do not have my results back, I let go of my fear and replaced it with faith.  I trust that God will take care of me…as He always has.
  • I am very fortunate to have health insurance that covers mammograms.  But not everyone does. I found that there are many many places that will offer free or low cost mammograms.  Just Google “free mammogram” and you will see many results.

Mammogram Monologues

I was very honored to be chosen by Hanes as one of a few influencers that will help them spread the word about the importance of early detection and encourage women across the country to schedule their mammograms. We will share our experience, “mammogram monologues,” to help demystify mammograms.

Hanes is proud to be partnering with the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) for its third consecutive year to help raise awareness of breast cancer and support a cause Hanes’ consumers care so deeply about.  As a longtime supporter of breast cancer awareness, Hanes has made cash and in-kind donations totaling over $1 million since 2009.  This year Hanes will donate $50,000 to NBCF and will donate an additional $1000 because of my participation in this initiative.

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Disclosure: I partnered with Hanes to spread the word about the importance of mammograms.  And in return,  Hanes will give a $1,000 donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation [NBCF] in my name.  All opinions in the article are my own. 

More Husband Wife Life on Babble:

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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