Initially, I didn't know whether or not to publish this post because I didn't know how people would feel about me writing about having a mammogram but as it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought that I would go ahead and publish it anyway because I feel that it's an issue that all women should be aware of and I think that anything that can be done to increase the early detection of breast cancer can only be a good thing.
A few weeks ago, I received a letter from my local heath authority, inviting me along to the mobile breast screening venue for a mammogram. I was slightly shocked as I'm only 47, however, upon reading the letter, it turns out that they are extending the screening age range and that as I now I fall within that range, I was chosen, at random, to take part. In the past, I have had several suspicious breast lumps that have had to be investigated by the hospital which, thankfully, have turned out to be nothing serious so, when the offer of a mammogram came along, it seemed like a sensible thing to do. I have to confess to being a bit nervous. Not least because the letter said the local screening location was in my local Argos car park! A bit draughty I thought :-)
I arrived at the screening unit and was greeted by a very lovely radiographer who took my details and told me to take a seat. I was slightly nervous because a couple of people have told me that it can be quite painful so I didn't know what to expect. However, the lovely ladies who were waiting to go in before me, and who were obviously old hands at mammograms, were very unconcerned about it all and barely batted an eyelid. They were having a good old natter about Monty Don and Gardener's World and giving each other helpful gardening tips, which was oddly quite reassuring. I was then called into the mammogram room and manoeuvred into the machine by the kind but reassuringly efficient radiographer before a series of images were taken both top to bottom and side to side. Basically, it's not painful, it's a bit embarrassing and a bit uncomfortable and the sensation of have your boobs squished between two plates of perspex is slightly odd but it's not painful. I was told that my results would be sent directly to my home within about three weeks and that I shouldn't panic if I was called to the hospital. Apparently, quite a few ladies having a first time mammogram are called to the hospital because a doctor looking at the pictures of a first mammogram has no previous pictures to compare them with to see if there have been any changes.
So, bearing this in mind when, last week, a letter from the NHS landed on my doormat, I took a couple of deep breaths and opened it. I was relieved to be told that there were no problems detected and that I would be invited back in three years to have the procedure repeated and next time, I will at least know what to expect.