Get those mammograms
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.
This year, over 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The good news is that when breast cancer is detected early, it can be treated more successfully, increasing the chances for survival.
Preventive health and screenings such as mammograms are also recommended to help with early detection.
If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them. Most doctors recommend yearly mammograms for women over 40.
I am one of those women over 40 that religiously had a mammogram each year — up until last year.
Life got busy, and I decided to skip the annual screening all along, telling myself I needed to get it done.
Fast forward to the spring of this year, and I finally went for my yearly mammogram. I was in and out in no time, not thinking anything of it. I waited for the “all-clear” letter that always follows about two weeks after the screening. However, this time, I received a call stating my mammogram showed an abnormality, and the doctor requested I come in for more testing.
I headed for the additional testing, again thinking it would be nothing to worry about. I went from one room for a more accurate mammogram to another for an ultrasound. Again, thinking I would hear everything was fine.
Wrong. Following the test, the doctor walks in and says he still sees an abnormality and feels that a biopsy needed to be done.
A week later, I had a biopsy done. And waited yet more days for results.
When you see that number from the doctor’s office on your phone come up, and you know things could change quickly, a lot of thoughts start running through your head — a lot of what if this and what if that.
Thankfully, the doctors were able to remove the small mass during the biopsy, and it was non-cancerous. But now, instead of going once a year for a mammogram, I must go every six months.
Until now, only my family knew what was going on, and I have not shared my story with others until this column.
I do so in hopes that if just one woman reads this and decides to get a mammogram and not put it off, then my job is done.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, now is the perfect time to do those self-examines and get those mammograms.
CRYSTAL VANDEGRIFT is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Crystal.Vandegrift@FarmvilleHerald.com.