Breast Cancer Awareness

Let me tell you about my first mammogram

Breast Cancer Awareness

A few weeks ago I took a huge step towards being a “grown-up” ie. behaving like a responsible adult. I got my first mammogram!

I never expected to get one in my thirties. You’re advised to to get your breasts regularly checked from the age of forty. However, breast disease is becoming more and more common in our society. Added to that, I’ve been feeling very paranoid after my last few self-examinations and my paranoia kicked in.

Breast disease has become a huge risk in normal every women like you and me that you can’t chance waiting until forty. Especially if you have a history of cancer in your family or you are worried about your breast health.

Something that always bothers me is that a lot of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer had felt nothing. Breast disease does not always present superficially so you won’t know you’re fine until you get the mammogram.

I read that an early detection is the main factor in successful treatment of breast disease.

My first mammogram

October month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Seeing all the trees and buildings wrapped in swaths of pink fabric and seeing people sporting pink ribbons made me even more aware that this needed to be done.

My maternal grandmother died at a very young age of cancer. I’ve always been aware of that and since having children been worried about my family history of cancer.

I’d heard from other women how painful the examination can be so I was a bit worried but I pushed through. I knew that it was something I needed to do for my own piece of mind.

Schedule your appointment well in advance

I scheduled my appointment about a month prior to the date I was available to do it. I phoned around and compared costs and opted to do it privately at the radiology department in N1 City hospital. The cost was steep at R1380 but I  got a small discount for doing it during Breast Cancer Awareness month.  I was even presented with a lovely little gift (a beach cooler bag) by the hospital for having a mammogram done during Breast Cancer Awareness month!

The hospital notified me via text message not to wear any deodorant or powder on the day. I took a shower just before I left home to feel fresh but my nerves got the better of me anyway! I felt sticky by the time I arrived for my appointment!

I’ll definitely schedule my next mammogram for the early morning.

The mammogram machine

I was told to take off my clothes from the waist up and wear a special pink cape which opened in the front.

I was very fortunate to have an amazing nurse attending me. She was efficient and explained everything as we went along.

The procedure involved placing my breasts one at a time onto the plates. She then operated the machine and it compressed two plates on either side of my breasts until the gap was about 8cm wide. This part was unpleasant because they have to flatten the breast tissue to get a clear reading but it was bearable and certainly not painful.

The nurse said that most women put off their mammograms because they fear this part the most. Sometimes even when there is an anomaly that could have been detected earlier.

A breast ultrasound

After I had completed my mammogram I also had an ultrasound. For moms, it works the same as the one we got during our pregnancies only it’s on the breasts.

The nurse scanned every inch of my breasts from my underarm to the areola first in a linear format and then in a circular pattern. She was very thorough.

Schedule your mammogram

While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.

I can tell you from personal experience that a mammogram is not painful, only uncomfortable. Like getting a pap smear.

A little bit of discomfort is nothing compared to the huge relief you feel when you get up from the bed and get a clean bill of health!

I was initially a bit scared to get a mammogram but as with everything else I think of my kids. For my kids I will take any steps necessary to be there for them, including living a healthy lifestyle and taking any precautions to stay safe.

Getting a mammogram falls under the umbrella of being responsible for yourself.

I thank God for prompting me to get this done and making provision to get the mammogram. As it turns out, I did have an anomaly. Thanks to early detection, I am informed and my follow-up appointments have already been scheduled. Despite the discomfort and the cost I have peace of mind and that is priceless.

Not all breast disease presents superficially. You might feel fine but you will never know for sure until you have your breasts checked with a mammogram. Please get one? For further information about anything related to breast cancer you can visit and I found these websites to be very helpful in my research.

Have you had a mammogram? What was your experience like? Please take a moment to share this post to raise awareness around this with the women in your circle.


Anthea O'Neill is a wife and proud mom of three. She is front-end web developer, blogger and a self-proclaimed glitter & yarn addict. Anthea's Project Life is a blog for the modern mom.

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  1. Moving post, thanks yo Anthea 🙂

  2. so sad that women scare each other off by saying it is painful.
    Scary yes, but that moment of compression is so worth it.
    My DCIS was found early, treated with mastectomy because of family history.
    January 2000. Still a survivor.

    Just do it!

    1. True Diana. I honestly expected much worse. Hat off to you for all that you’ve been through. I wish my results had been 100% clear but it’s not and at least now it is on record and is being monitored. I never thought I’d be an advocate for breast healthy but I have heard so many women say they’d rather not know and it is sad and scary. It’s wonderful to meet an survivor!

  3. My mom had a mastectomy and we were advised to have us checked at 40. Scary as you say but just uncomfortable. Knowing you are high risk makes the thought of going even more daunting but as you say, you think about the little ones you will leave motherless and you push yourself to have it done. Now to tackle the Pap smear thing…..?

    1. I’m with you 100% on that! As Moms we always put our own welfare last but for our kids sake we should take care of ourselves better. Pap smear…now that’s a challenge for another day!

  4. Simoné says:

    Hi Anthea. I also had my first mammogram last year, just after I turned 30. My experience was pretty much the same as yours, not as painful as people made it out to be. I’m glad I did it. 🙂

    1. So worth the peace of mind!

  5. Pamela says:

    I am sorry to say but I am a total wimp when it comes to anything medical. I know, I know……….. if my kids could physical take me by the scruff of my neck to have myself checked out, I’m quite sure they would do it gladly.

    1. Get the mammogram Mommy!

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