Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Getting your mammies gramed

Periodically, I receive emails from girlfriends poking fun at the alleged pain of mammography. Some are cartoons suggesting exercises for mammogram preparation like slamming your breasts in the refrigerator door or the toilet seat.

For some people, joking about a procedure can eliminate the stress of anticipation or the unpleasantness of the procedure itself.

But for others, it can heighten the fear of the procedure and anticipation of the pain.

So, let's stop perpetuating the myth of pain surrounding mammograms.

I had a mammogram this morning at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich.where I have always had a good experience. Scheduling is easy, the wait is minimal, the technicians are great, and the procedure is fast -- and painless.

Years ago, an older friend told me, "It (the mammogram) hurts!" Consequently, I anticipated the worst.

But, when I had my first mammogram at age 40, the Providence tech was quick to dispel the association of pain.

"You will only feel compression," she told me, "and the machine lets go as soon as the x-ray is complete."

She was right. I know some women have had painful experiences with mammograms. According to Theresa, the technician who administered my mammogram today, "A lot depends on the tech and (her) technique." This is why I like the Providence techs.

If breasts are tender, or sensitivity is an issue, just take two Ibuprofen tablets, like Motrin, about an hour before the mammogram.

There's no reason to dread having your mammies gramed. It could save your life.

New guidelines were announced last year -- but do they downplay the importance of mammography? Cancer columnist, and two time breast cancer survivor, Shirley Ruedy says they are way off base.

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