My first mammogram

Friday, April 30, 2021

During my annual well-woman exam, my doctor told me it was time to start getting mammograms. He explained the process, and what to expect. His office scheduled the mammogram with the radiology department. My mammogram was scheduled for 5-6 weeks after I left my doctor's office. 

A week before the mammogram the radiology department called and told me they were moving their machines so they had to reschedule my appointment. I was like, "okay."

When the day of the exam finally came, I was super nervous. I had not been super nervous about anything in my life for a long time. I asked a few friends to pray for me. The night before, I was speaking with a friend from high school who told me her experience. 

She has a history of breast cancer in her family, so she's been getting exams for a while. She told me I would be just fine. My friend lives abroad, and the government pays for those exams. I thought that was pretty awesome. She also informed me that if you don't have enough tissue to fit the machine, they give you ultrasounds. The playful way she told me made me laugh.

My appointment was at the end of the business day. I went to the wrong building, and instead of driving, I decided to walk to the correct place. I thought the extra walk will help me calm down. That was a good decision. 

The waiting room was empty. When my name was called, I answered. An older nurse introduced herself and told me she would be doing my mammogram. She asked some usual information.

She also asked if I had the COVID vaccine, which one and in which arm. I thought those had to be both signs of the times and health data gathering. 

She asked me to undress from waist up and put on a gown that reminded me of the top part of a choir robe. Here's the problem: I had on a dress. 

She asked me if I had on shorts. I said, no but I can make this dress into a skirt. I laughed and told her, "can you tell I've never done this before? Of all the things I could wear, I chose this dress." She helped me unzip the dress. 

When I was ready, we went to the exam room. The nurse was very skillful and she had great manners. I basically had to stand still so they could take 4 different pictures. When I looked to the walls, I saw a painting with Jeremiah 29:11 written in it. That was very comforting. The visual reminder that God and hope and a future planned for me. 

I stood still as the nurse requested. The whole thing lasted maybe 7 minutes. The nurse said, "sometimes, the doctor's office calls back for additional images, so don't freak you. You don't seem to be the freak out type so you'll be just fine." I took that as a compliment. 

I thanked her and left. My friends asked me how it went. I told them it wasn't so bad. There is pressure but for me, it wasn't painful. I often compare the pain I've felt in the past. I told my friends that my well-woman exam is way more uncomtable. We agreed that part of being a woman is knowing pain and discomfort. It is all worth it if it means we are being good stewards of our health. 

Yesterday, I got a phone call from my doctor's nurse saying the mammogram looks good. I was grateful for the good news. 

I wanted to share this experience because it is important to schedule health exams. It is okay to be nervous and afraid. What is not okay is postponing the things that help us to be healthy. 

I understand that mammograms are expensive. I read in the newspaper this week that an organization was offering them for $99 to those who do not have health insurance. There is a way to take care of your health, all you need to do is reach out for help.

Lastly, I know that God is in complete control. He has also made us stewards of a lof things such as our health. I had my wake-up call when my blood pressure was dangerously high 15 years ago. I decided to do something about it. That wake-up call keeps me focused on living a lifestyle that allows me to manage stress and other contributing causes of high blood pressure. 

I learned that taking care of my health is not about what's going to happen tomorrow but it is about the quality of life I can enjoy today. Tomorrow is not really guaranteed. God has given me today so I will honor Him with a healthy lifestyle. 

Lastly, I want to remind you that I took small steps to go from where I was to where I am. If you are afraid of going to the doctor, call a friend so she can go with you. 

If you are embarrassed to start exercising in a group, invite a friend to join you. Small steps lead to big accomplishments. I want to encourage you to take small steps today. It is not too late to start.