Mammogram Misadventure

27 Feb
Did you know that if a close relative of yours was diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re supposed to start getting mammograms 5-10 years before the age of the diagnosis?  In my case, that means I should’ve started getting mammograms at age 17 (or 22) , which, as many of you will already know, is pretty ridiculous, since mammograms generally don’t work very well on dense young breast tissue.
I will admit that my breast tissue is decidedly less dense since this whole motherhood thing happened, so it seemed like it might be a good time to get a baseline mammogram done.  Part of my problem is that I, like many women, have lumpy breasts.  Not that you can tell by looking at them, or anything.  (That would definitely be a bad sign.)  But I have cysts (this is quite common) which I have even had checked out by ultrasound and by the "breast specialist" in Yellowknife.  The doctor I had in Ottawa pretty much completely discouraged me from doing regular breast exams when she told me that my lumps felt like normal lumps and that breasts are just lumpy confusing things.  Well, it made me wonder what the point was of doing the exams.  (The point, by the way, is that you learn what a "normal" lump feels like and you’ll be able to tell when you get a different kind of lump.)
Anyway, my family doctor here referred me for a mammogram, not because there’s any particular problem, but because, as I mentioned above, it seemed like a good time to get a baseline.  I got to the hospital, changed into a gown (opening in front), washed off my deoderant (not sure why I had to do this, but they even provide a spray deoderant to put on afterward), and filled out the questionnaire.  I also had a close look at a Thingamaboob.
Then the tech came in and sat down to go over the form with me.  Before she even started, I mentioned to her that I am breastfeeding.
"You are?!" she exclaimed in dismay.  "Oh no!"
"Is that a problem?" I cleverly asked.
It turns out that you’re supposed to wait 6 months from the cessation of breastfeeding before you can have a mammogram.  Breastfeeding causes the tissue to be too full of fluid to get a good clear picture.  So if I stopped breastfeeding today, I could go have a mammogram in September.  But I can’t do it if I’m pregnant (which I’m not just now, so no jumping to conclusions here) because they don’t really like to bombard little developing tadpoles with radiation.
But since I don’t know exactly how much longer I’m going to breastfeed (or when we might start planning for a sibling to Jade, for that manner) it could potentially be years before I am in that optimal state to be mammogrammable.  I guess I’d better get better at doing those self-exams.

One Response to “Mammogram Misadventure”

  1. Nemmy February 27, 2007 at 8:11 pm #

    I was having the same issue… didn\’t help that I had a nurse tell me that the first time she felt a REAL cancer "lump", it felt nothing like she thought it should feel like… 😛

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: