The truth about getting your first mammogram

Ok, all you 40-year-old ladies, raise your right arms in solidarity. Welcome to your next right of passage: the annual breast-squishing. Better known as the mammogram.

I was supposed to start getting mammograms when I turned 35, but I kept “forgetting” to schedule the appointment. Perhaps not the right approach to take, given that my grandmother, my mother and my aunt are all breast cancer survivors. But I was terrified of putting the girls in that vice grip.

Here's what to expect when you take THE GIRLS for your first mammogram. The worst part might not be what you think.

Now that I’m adulting a bit more and have hopped on the mammogram-train, I’ve discovered the worst part about getting one isn’t actually the boob smashing.

And it isn’t the lingering (HORRIFYING) worry that you might get THAT call. Because, maybe, they found a lump.

And it’s not the hanging-out-half-naked with some random lab tech you don’t know. In a freezing room. While she talks your ear off. Because she feels AWK-WARD.

And it isn’t the “no deodorant” rule. Even though, let’s be honest, you’re gonna forget to put it on afterwards and spend the rest of the day avoiding your coworkers. Because, um, “no deodorant.”

And the worst part isn’t how you have to hug the machine “a little more, honey.” Where you end up mashing your face against the x-ray-gadget-sneeze-guard-thing so the tech lady can “get a better picture.” As you think about how many other germ-filled faces have tread this same real estate.

(Then you start begging the tech lady for a moist toilette full of anti-everything sanitizer to clorox your face with. You know those wipes they reserve for when you have to prepare things “down there” before you pee in a cup? When you pray to Jesus that your IUD still works because you are seriously done with babies? Yep, give me one of those. They seem pretty hard core.)

Nope, the worst part about getting a mammogram isn’t any of those things.

The worst part is when the tech lady tells you to “hold your breath.”

Um, what? Deep, intentional yoga breathing is seriously the only thing getting me through this ordeal.

I am deep-breathing through the squishing. I am deep-breathing through my germ-a-phobe panic. I am deep-breathing at the ridiculous sight of a fully-clothed woman chatting incessantly about nothing while I am nakedly at her mercy. I am deep-breathing and hoping like mad the iron maiden doesn’t breakdown with my girls in its clutches.

Yoga breathing is my lifeline. And this chick wants me to HOLD MY BREATH?!

Which leads to another level of panic. How long do I have to hold my breath? What if I sneak a tiny breath and the pictures get messed up and she makes me do it all over? What if I don’t sneak a tiny breath and pass out and I’m left dangling in space with my brave little boobs stuck in the machine?

This is making me hyperventilate. So the tech lady starts chanting namaste, bless her heart…

Y’all, as soon as this is over, I’m taking my girls and my yoga-breathing-self to Chick-fil-A. For a milkshake and an “it’s my pleasure.” Because we 40-year-olds deserve a little something for braving this, right?

I wrote that three weeks ago. And I was cracking myself up. Then I got THAT call.

I’m headed back to the breast center this morning. Because they “want to double check something.” Something is a vague and large word filling my mind today.

Especially given my family history of breast cancer.

So, dear one, let me level with you. The worst part about getting a mammogram truly is the lingering, horrifying thoughts in the days that follow: Will they call? What will they say? What will happen next?

Embrace your yoga breathing. Go about your day and don’t give it any more thought. Because the call will come – or it won’t. Don’t give up precious life in the meantime pondering the possibilities.

Blessings to the mommas out there facing these same fears.

Editor’s note:
Everything went great at the breast center. Luckily, they shared my results right then and there. No follow up call to dread. No sign of cancer. Just a reminder to come back next year to make sure the girls are still holding up. Now off to indulge in another milkshake – or maybe a yoga class.

Share your mammogram stories below or on Facebook at MothersRest.

Photo credit: Tochi Onwubiko from Unsplash.com

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