Foundational Breast Care
Fully Embracing having a Mammogram
Today marked my fourteenth year of having yearly mammograms and ultrasounds as part of my self-care program. I am forty-seven years of age and had breast cancer at the age of thirty-three.
Over the years I have heard many women speak of the invasiveness of having a mammogram and wishing there was an alternative. However, at present with what is on offer from our medical system, there really isn’t one and we are left with what can seem like a daunting, uncomfortable and impersonal process to many women – having our delicate and sensitive breasts squished between two plates.
I too have looked for alternatives and have requested to have the less invasive treatment of an ultrasound. With much persuasion from doctors and nurses on the benefits of having both the mammogram and ultrasound, I have since decided to keep going with my yearly mammograms. Over the years, there have been a couple of times when there has been a suspicious lump found and I have had to have more than one in a year. I would say that I have now clocked up to eighteen mammograms, which you could consider a lot for a woman who is only forty-seven.
The reason I am sharing this, is that I no longer see having a mammogram as something hard or difficult like I once used to. It is a procedure that I have come to fully embrace as part of my self-care program and I would not miss having this yearly ritual because with my history of breast cancer, I know that these are important for my overall health.
My relationship with having mammograms wasn’t always what it is now. Through the process of surrendering, I have come to accept that having yearly mammograms is what is needed for me to ensure that I am not on the path of having a reoccurrence and therefore this procedure is supportive for my body.
By embracing having yearly mammograms as part of my self-care and healing, I now find the procedure very simple and easy to go through. I have also learnt how to support myself on the day of having the mammogram and how simple things can make a difference to how I feel.
As an example, I have learnt that it is often cold in the rooms when I have a mammogram regardless of the season. I therefore always ensure that I take a warm jacket that I can put on over my hospital gown to make sure that my body is warm for when I have the procedure. If I am warm, I am able to stay connected with my body and in turn I stay super gentle with myself. I also engage with the technician, for when there is a connection with the woman giving me the mammogram, I find the process becomes much more enjoyable. I am then not just another body but I am an equal tender woman to her.
Today I had a woman who was super caring, gentle, tender and nurturing. I, in return, did not hold back from letting her feel and see my tenderness and vulnerability. For those of you who are reading this article and have had mammograms you may relate to the feeling of vulnerability that arises from standing naked from the waist up in front of a woman that you have just met. It is easy to try and hide or shrink, but in reality there is no-where to hide as you and the technician go about what is needed for the mammogram to take place. To try and hide would be a contraction and in the contraction, from my own personal experience, I have found the procedure becomes more uncomfortable and at times somewhat traumatic. I no longer have these experiences with my yearly visits. In fact, the more that I nurture myself, I have found that I receive the same level of care from the technician.
The woman who delivered my mammogram this morning was gorgeous. She had the best intent to not harm and to make it an easy process as possible. I confirmed her in how supportive she was and I wanted her to know how much I appreciated how caring she was with me.
So today, I walk away from my mammogram a little sore in my breasts, but with an open heart, still holding my tenderness, and appreciative that for now, this is the best tool available for me to know where I stand in regards to my breast health.
By Donna Nolan