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The M Word

Why the post today? Because I hate the C word: Cancer. I pray that it hasn't found it's way to you or your loved ones.

Which M word am I talking about? Any guesses? No, not menstruation or menopause, but another female concern. I'm talking about mammograms. This post is for the ladies. Squeamish types will want to step away from this blog post.  Possible TMI forthcoming. Run away NOW. You have been warned.

Aside from fitness activities, I've never really wanted to blog about my health. It's personal. Perhaps too personal. I am willing to stretch a bit past my comfort zone. I will keep this as sterile as possible. I am determined to focus my efforts (and blog topics) about all things that make life better for me and my family. I will live life for the better. If I can prolong my life and maintain a healthy quality of life, I will do the work. Thankfully, I've never had any serious health issues (knock on wood). I'd like to keep it that way. Cancer has touched the lives of so many people that I know. It sucks. I hope that you can't relate.

Today I went in for my yearly mammogram. I am in my forties. It's hard for me to believe that sometimes. Once you hit the big 40, it is recommended that you start getting yearly mammograms.  I have read some articles about the practice doing more harm than good.  I understand the benefits and potential harms of screening mammograms but decided that (for me) taking a step at early detection of breast cancer was the way to go. Important to note: Women should talk with their doctor about the benefits and harms of mammography, when to start screening, and how often to be screened.

With the advisement of my primary care physician, I didn't have my first mammogram until I was 41. I didn't have family history of breast cancer. It really wasn't a horrible experience. If we are talking level of discomfort as far as pain: I'd take the imaging plates over a speculum in a heartbeat. Both procedures are such an awkward experience for me so I am thankful that I only have to do it once a year! Guidelines changed on the frequency of the pap smear so I am off the hook for THAT exam. You didn't think that I would go through a post like this without pap smear in the text did ya? Shudder.  I HATE the words pap smear like some hate the word moist. Cancer is worse than any of those words.

For the mammogram virgins: they will inform you NOT to wear lotions or deodorant. They will likely provide you with cleansing wipes just in case. You will only undress from the waist up so you will only suffer half way naked. Some people don't mind being naked. I do. I am happy that I didn't have to wear the awful hospital gown. I got to wear a cape! Yes I did. At my breast imaging center you are given a cape! I still feel exposed and uncomfortable, but  I hear the word cape and I think: superhero. So today I was my very own health superhero. For a description of the entire exam I recommend talking to your healthcare provider.

This is my 3rd trip down mammogram lane. Your first screening will determine your "baseline" and they will use that as a benchmark for changes during subsequent testing.  I got the all clear on my results. Waiting for the results is probably the worst part of it all for me. For my exam I was in and out of the office in 20 minutes. If I didn't snap a few photos it would have been 10-15 minutes. They didn't rush me or anything, the technician was good at her job and got me in an out quickly. Thank goodness!

Have YOU had a mammogram? What are your thoughts about it? For? Against?

I know that some of you have much more insight that what I have learned in the mere three times that I have had the process done. Share please.

Poll: Pap Smear or Mammogram, which is worse?