My First Mammogram

Time to Get it Off my To-Do List

Amber Nason • Jul 20, 2017

Well, my fortieth birthday had come and gone and I knew it was time for that important rite of passage for women my age, getting my first mammogram. Being the type of person who enjoys research and reading about something before I experience it, I did my due diligence.

I visited the Canadian Cancer Society website and read about the importance of getting screened and the options available, learning that mammography is the gold standard of breast cancer screening. I also educated myself about breast cancer risk factors and breast density. I discovered that it's important to know if I have dense breasts, since dense breast tissue is a risk for breast cancer. Finally, I booked an appointment for a physical with my doctor so I could speak with her about the exam and get a booking requisition.

However, I do have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of medical procedures so I did procrastinate, both in booking my physical and in booking my mammography once I received my requisition. Which explains why it was almost a year after my birthday, before I went for the exam.

THE PROCEDURE

But I did book the appointment in the end, with Mayfair Diagnostics. After a brief discussion with the booking coordinator about my medical history and some instructions for the procedure, I showed up a few days later for my appointment. With very little waiting time in the reception area, I was brought into the changing area and given a gown top to change into.

Once I was taken into the exam room, the technologist explained the procedure and what I could expect. I also asked her about breast density and requested my breast density score. After the explanations were complete, we got under way. The entire procedure took about 15 minutes and was relatively painless. In fact, the pressure from the machine was very brief and only slightly uncomfortable. The positioning and re-positioning of the breast tissue for best viewing was the worst part of the process, in my opinion, but the technologist was efficient and it helped that she explained her actions throughout the exam.

Overall, it wasn’t my favourite way to spend 15 minutes, but I knew that it was important. And, in the end, I was pleased by the ease of the process and glad to have it out of the way.

THE FOLLOW-UP

As a follow-up, a few days later I received a call to book a breast ultrasound. Since my mammography technologist had explained that my breast tissue was on the dense side of the scoring spectrum, it wasn’t an unexpected call. The booking coordinator also reassured me that it was a common procedure in cases of dense breasts, since the dense breast tissue can make a mammogram more difficult to read and a breast ultrasound allows the radiologist and my doctor to get a clearer picture of any areas of concern.

This time I booked my exam right away. Again, I had a short wait in the reception area and the technologist was fast and efficient. The breast ultrasound took a little longer than the mammography since the technician had to use a handheld wand to image each breast, but the exam was complete within 20 minutes. After waiting another 10 minutes for the radiologist to review the images, I was given the all clear and on my way home.

Now that I know what to expect, I might not even procrastinate next time!

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