Mammogram Age: The Importance of Getting Screened
Are you in the mammogram age range? Doctors say that women should start getting screened as early as 40 years old and possibly earlier, depending on their history and environment.
Whether you are preparing for a mammogram in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month or anticipating one in the next few years, it's never too late to start thinking about and preparing for your first mammogram.
Scheduling My First Mammogram: Getting Over the Fear
I'm 44 years old—right in the target mammogram age range. Every year beginning with my 40th birthday, my husband has left reminders around the house, encouraging me to get my first mammogram as he is well aware of the positive benefits of early cancer detection. And clearly, my local hospitals know I'm of mammogram age, because the marketing materials with promises of free massages and socks are plentiful.
But truth be told, I've been afraid to go to the doctor. Case in point: A free massage hasn't even been able to get me there. Here's why...
Growing up, we were very close to our neighbors across the street. Their six children were close in age to the five kids in my family. A couple of years after they moved into the neighborhood, their mom got breast cancer. I was in my tween years at the time and didn't even understand what that diagnosis meant. People didn't talk about breast cancer as much back then as they do now, so I was left to my own devices to come to conclusions about what was going on.
As the years progressed, I watched as fighting cancer while raising children became a real challenge for my friend's mom. I witnessed the battle with her health becoming harder and harder for her to fight. I saw the toll it took on their sweet family. I remember my friend's mom losing her hair. I remember my friends, her daughters, doing lots of chores and making lots of carrot juice and not being able to play on Saturdays. I remember my mom having a serious conversation with me and my siblings one year about ways we could make their Christmas brighter. Even though it was fun to brainstorm and serve this family, I knew the charity was for something very serious. Cancer seemed very hard, painful, and like it cost my friends their childhood and ultimately, their own mother. It scared me and I couldn't really process it.
I think a little bit of that scared feeling from my childhood has followed me into adulthood. Not only have I not been preparing for a mammogram once I became of mammogram age, I have been entirely avoiding it. So, when Hanes reached out and asked me to join them, in partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, in spreading awareness about mammograms, it felt like the perfect way to bite the bullet and get my overdue mammogram. I love that Hanes is not only helping me take action for my health, but is also donating $50,000 to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation to help with breast cancer research, support, and more.
I invite you to join me on my before and after journey so if you're scared (or even if you're just preparing for a mammogram and aren't scared at all), we can do this together and you will know how to prepare yourself for your future mammogram.
The Perfect Mammogram Age
Here are a few things you should know as you are considering scheduling a mammogram...
Per the National Breast Cancer Foundation:
- Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years.
- Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.
- Even women who have no symptoms and no known risks for breast cancer should have regularly scheduled mammograms to help detect potential breast cancer at the earliest possible time.
7 Reasons to Get Screened When You Are in the Mammogram Age Zone
Getting a mammogram early and then regularly scheduling them leads to early detection and increases chances of prevention.
- Since breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, getting screened early and regularly could literally save your life!
- Mammograms are the most effective way of screening for breast cancer.
- Mammograms are safe.
- Mammograms can detect lumps in your breast 1-3 years before they form.
- Getting regularly scheduled mammograms helps doctors compare screens to see if changes occur year over year.
- Breast cancer risk increases with age, so scheduling regular mammograms (every other year) is critical for early detection.
- Even though a mammogram can be uncomfortable and slightly painful, they last about 20 minutes.
If I can do it, so can you! Check out my follow-up post, which shares details about my mammogram experience and tips on what to expect when getting your first mammogram.
Have you had a mammogram? What tips do you recommend for preparing for a mammogram?
In full disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in the #HanesForGood campaign. My fear in getting a mammogram and my thoughts and opinions expressed on this topic are my own.