I think about breast health sometimes more than others (for heavens sake, please wear a supportive workout bra during aerobic activity like Jazzercise! Those flimsy regular bras just don’t hold you in enough to prevent that delicate tissue from tearing and eventually (gasp!) sagging), but lately it’s been front and center in my mind.
I turned 40 this year and dragged my feet into the imaging center to get my first mammogram last month.
What I really wanted was to find a thermogram and avoid the radiation from traditional mammography, but my ob/gyn/midwivery practice didn’t know of any thermogram centers, so I bit my tongue and went in for the radiation of a mammogram even though they are finding the radiation from medical screening procedures can contribute to cancer. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
What I really wanted was to not do this at all. I waited more than six months, until I was ever-so-gently prodded into going by my fabulous life coach, Rachelle Disbennett-Lee. She was right: it was time to go.
A clinical breast exam performed by highly trained fingers can identify 61% of tumors that turn out to be cancer. Adding a mammogram, increases the ability to find a cancer to 84%. Research done in Montreal in the mid-1990s demonstrated that adding a thermogram to breast exam and conventional mammogram increases the ability to find cancer early — and do something about it — to 95%. (Read more about breast exams.)
I figured I’d do the mammogram this time and keep trying to find a thermogram for next year. I guess I’m glad I did it, because they found something.
Some things, I should say. In my left breast.
They look like specks of dust on the original contact print, and more like jagged rice grains when magnified 90 times. But they’re definitely there, and there shouldn’t be anything there.