I went for a mammogram today. I've had multiple ones and don't find them nearly as terrible as some women make them out to be. It's certainly not pleasurable, but it's not really painful either.
That said, imagine my surprise when I put my bra back on, looked in the mirror, and found my skin very, very red in a line at the top of my breast, from being squashed. Being who I am, I whipped out the camera and took a pic. I considered posting it here but decided readers might not want to be reading blogs and find such a photo. So, you'll just have to take my word for it.
It's just some minor skin irritation, and it's the first time I've ever experienced that. The squashing seems much less extreme these days than it used to be. If you're afraid to have one and worried about it, email me and I'll send the pic to you so you can see it's not a big deal.
It's very important that you have mammograms. The momentary discomfort is minor compared to the security of knowing all is well. I walked out of there, expecting to get good news, and looked at the other women in the waiting room, knowing that some of them were probably far more worried than I was. For me it was routine, for some of them it's life-saving.
If you're a woman over 40 and haven't had one, get thee to the doctor immediately. If you're a woman over 50 and haven't had one within the last 12 months, start dialing for an appointment. If you're over 30 you should have a mammogram on file for a base line comparison in the future. If you're over 20 and have a family history of breast cancer, you should have one. I had my first one in my 20s. Sometimes you may have to remind your doctor. DO it.
Your chances of breast cancer increase with age, but other factors - like a mother, aunt or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer, increase that risk. The government gives the following stats about your risk:
from age 20 to age 30. . . 1 out of 2,000
from age 30 to age 40. . . 1 out of 250
from age 40 to age 50. . . 1 out of 67
from age 50 to age 60. . . 1 out of 35
from age 60 to age 70. . . 1 out of 28
Ever . . . . . . . . . . . 1 out of 8