It's 'the girls' big day out today!

And I mean 'OUT'...yep 'the girls' and I are off to the big city lights for our annual squish, pummel and flat-iron today. And seeing as I took a 'brutal' honesty pill this week, I thought what the heck I've covered facial hair, lets go for the boobies now!

So let's get serious for a moment, because it's not a joking matter and if I can convince just one of you to go get checked for the first time, then this has been worthwhile.

I am 42 and I had my first mammogam last year at 41, just to give me a baseline you understand, the plan was then to get one 3-5 years later. Well hey guess what, they found a shadow, so I was referred to the wonderful specialist clinic Breast Imaging of Oklahoma. It's staffed by all female technicians, aesthetically relaxing to women in decor, and tries to get everything done there and then. Well after a digital mammo' and an ultra-sound, turned out I had a cyst, which they quickly aspirated and I was good to go. But they requested I come back a year later for my next mammogram, as I have the kind of dense boobs prone to cysts and hard to self-examine.

My point though is I had no clue I had an issue before the mammogram, I also didn't know I had the kind of dense tissue that needs watching a little more regularly. All this just by going to get a baseline mammo' in my early forties.

And here is my next point; in the UK women aren't even offered a mammogram on the NHS under the age of 50, unless they are in a high-risk group. That's just considered 'old' for getting a baseline here, most Dr's will recommend it around 45, but some anytime after you hit 40. The thinking behind this is to get a baseline for future comparison, before menopause and all the changes it brings starts. Makes good sense to me!

But turns out 'the girls' have had a bit of a year, well the left one anyway! First of all I had mastitis in May and no you didn't miss me dropping a baby Brit' Gal, typically I was that 'rare' non-breastfeeding case! Then 3 weeks ago I woke up and found a very tender sizeable lump, that had literally popped up overnight?! I was a little concerned and very touchy as in "touch my boob and you're dead meat hubster", but also realised Breast Cancer doesn't generally appear overnight. After a week of anti-biotics and then a lovely steroid shot in the bootie, it finally went away and has not returned, probably just infection according to my Dr. But the Dr wanted me to get not just my annual mammo' but also a specialist consultation, on why my 'left boob' is determined to hog the limelight this year?!

So that's where I am off to today, pretty relaxed about it all and glad to be going to such a fantastic clinic, where I know I will get the best possible attention and care. Sure mammograms are not comfortable and this comes to you from a Gal who has alot to flatten! But I am now a total advocate of going in your 40's and getting that baseline done. If I was in the UK I would have paid to go privately by age 45, but I bet that cyst would have been an issue before then. I imagine most of us can say we know someone personally affected by Breast Cancer and these days it's got a high remission rate, so early detection is even more essential.

So if you're worried it'll hurt, go immediately after your period (less painful) and grit your teeth for the minute it takes to do each. No family history, well history has to start with someone! If you're in the UK don't wait for the NHS to decide it's your time, get that baseline in your 40's. And if you just can't be bothered, well look at your loved ones faces and do it for them.

And for all you men, just be grateful for that prostate exam, it could be so much worse! ;-)


Kay said...

Oh yes, I go every year but they say that you have to do your own monthly check as well which I always forget to do. I've had several friends who found the lump on their own. Hope everything goes well with your consultation.

Winifred said...

Yes don't miss them. My friend's cancer was picked up by a mammogram very early so she's fine.

Having small boobies doesn't make the mammos any less painful! As you say just grit your teeth.

Linda (AKA "Mommy") said...

I go every year but they say that you have to do your own monthly check as well which I always forget to do. I've had several friends who found the lump on their own.

Maureen said...

Excellent post, Sarah! Well done for highlighting such a serious issue and sharing your story.

And you're right about the NHS. The NHS provides free breast screening every three years for all women in the UK aged 50 and over. It's shocking that they don't start screening until age 50 but even worse (IMHO) is that it's offered to women aged between 50 and 70. I can't believe the screening simply stops for women over the age of 70! To be fair, I have read that the NHS Breast Screening Programme will extend the age range of women eligible for breast screening to ages 47 to 73 eventually. However, that isn't much good to women in those lower and upper age ranges now.

I love the cartoon at the end of your post - "The Manogram" - too funny!!

Sherri said...

Sarah, I go every year. Good luck today!! Take care of those TaTa's!!

pamokc said...

Girl, my squish is today as well, just in a different location about town. We'll compare notes! Sorry to miss seeing you though!

Almost American said...

I have a friend in the UK whose mother died of breast cancer in her late 40's/early 50's. My friend is 47 and the NHS has given her precisely one mammogram, and that only because she dug her heels in and insisted she had found a lump! Because it was negative, they told her she can't have the next one until she's 50!

I had my first mammogram 'late' according to my doctor - at age 44, but I had to wait until I was done being pregnant and nursing.

Anonymous said...

Ok so I've been lurking for a while but need to add my two cents to this debate , namely the reason that the NHS only starts screening at age 50.

Its basically a numbers game.
The younger you are , the denser your breast tissue is.

The denser the tissue , the higher the Xray dose needed to penetrate.

The higher the dose the higher the risk from the ionising radiation used.

given that breast cancer is generally rare in under 50s , statistically you risk causing more cancers than you actually detect !

I'm not saying that you shouldn't go and that mammography isn't a useful tool, but this is actually based on scientific research and not cost cutting ( maybe a first for the NHS!)

Btw I agree that it is disgusting that routine screening stops at 70 as your risk increases as you get older !!


Its Just Me - Daring to Dream said...

Thats actually pretty funny (Manogram).

Nope - they are not very fun, but needed. My first was mid 30s. Not fun at all!

Expat mum said...

Those dense boobs are a pain I have to say. We've had more false alarms in our family - but at least that's all they were.

Daryl said...

Excellent post, Sarah, and I hope all women regardless of age give themselves monthly self exams... cant ever be too careful.

I suspect your going to get a sono .. I get one every year along with the mammo for my dense lumpy boobs

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

It seems rather criminal that in the UK they wait so late to get the baseline. Crazy.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post, Sarah. YES--I go every year for my good ole mammogram... It's no fun---but it HAS to be done.

karen said...

hope it goes fine for all you girls! due to family history, I did the baseline thing, incl. ultrasound for the first time at about 36 - wasn't nearly as bad as i had expected!when you think about it, picking it up early or at least having the peace of mind of everything being fine is worth the indignities! oh, and loved the man-ogram!! :-)

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Great post, Sarah !
It's an important exam I know, and one I mark on my calendar every year.....but, (men don't read this ) I couldn't help but think, I hope she gave "the girls" the once over with the tweezers, before she put 'em on stage...

Mare said...

You are so very funny![I mean the cartoon at the end of your post!}
You make good sense, and I hope women heed your advice. I aleady do.

Gaelyn said...

Great advice and good luck today. Reminds me to make an appointment. Love the manogram!

Anna's Spot said...

Thanks Sarah, I had my boobies squished in the summer. It is so important my mom had breast cancer in 1993. It was caught early and she is still doing well.
Have a great day. Hugs and love