A few weeks ago, I realized that I've been neglecting some things in my life. Beyond the Christmas tree that was never decorated, the Christmas cards that were never sent, and, oh, I don't know, THIS BLOG, I've neglected to get one of the most important yet standard tests a woman can get.
The almighty mammogram.
I can't imagine why. Honestly, who wouldn't want to strip from the waist up, sidle on up to a glass table and allow a stranger to manipulate "the ladies" into perfect positions before slowly lowering another glass slab on top of them, and squeezing until they've flattened out ... much like that marshmallow you squished last summer in between two graham crackers.
You are SO going to think of that the next time you bite into a s'more.
And you're welcome.
Regardless, my doctor had ordered my usual squish-fest in the fall of 2014 around the time of my yearly physical. I just never got around to scheduling it. Oops.
Meh. So what, right?
You see, the thing is, that simple test is often the first indicator a woman will have that something isn't okay with the girls. The melons. The fat bags. The ... eh, I'll leave the many humorous names for the LIFE-SUPPORTING mammary glands to you. Feel free to comment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in women (right behind heart disease). In 2013, cancer caused 21.5% of female deaths in the U.S.; cancer and heart disease combined caused nearly 44% of female deaths for that year while "unintentional injuries" caused only 3.8%. But wait ... that's all ages, folks.
When you consider an age range beginning at 35 to 64, cancer reigns supreme as the leading cause of female deaths. For 55-64 year old females, that percentage reaches 38.3% while heart disease rests in 2nd at 16.6% Statistics can be frightening.
Now, perhaps you're more Han-like and don't want to know the odds. "Never tell me the odds!"
[Seriously, if you haven't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, stop everything, skip everything EXCEPT your mammogram and go see it. Now.]
The point is that anything you can do to keep yourself from adding to cancer's lead is important. Finding breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25-30%. And mammograms are an important way of doing that. The American Medical Association (and a whole long list of others) recommend that women begin getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40 (or earlier if you're considered high risk).
So get to squishing, ladies!
If you've never had a mammogram before, fear not. My kidding above aside, the process is relatively quick and relatively painless. You usually begin in a changing room where you'll be instructed to strip from the waist up and don a glorious wrap top (think hospital gown cut in half). You'll also be asked to use a handy wipe to remove any deodorant. Things like deodorant can show up on a mammogram and confuse the results. The technician conducting the test will show you the machine and answer any questions you have before beginning. While there is some positioning of body and breast, and your girls will be flattened, I have never found it to be painful. The tech will position you, ask you to hold your breath, take the mammogram, and then have you relax while checking the image. This happens several times in order to get as complete a view of each breast as possible.
That's it. Yet, that little test could literally save your life.
I got mine on New Year's Eve.
Start 2016 out by doing something simple to protect yourself.
Get to squishing!