This is an open letter to all those who might be afraid of getting their first mammogram. So, I want to be upfront with you now; I won't be graphic in my description. However, if this topic doesn't interest you, I invite you to go grab a snack and find out which places in the Lansing area are serving up some excellent paczki for Fat Tuesday.

I'm Scared of Getting a Mammogram

Okay, if you're still with me, I'm glad to have you here!

I feel like subjects like these aren't often discussed. It's just one of those things we accept as being something we have to do one day. Inevitable.

But I wanted to openly talk about it because I feel like since it's something everyone with breasts has to do at some point in their life, it should be talked about normally. It's a normal thing we all have to do one day, and if my openness can help anyone else who might be feeling scared to feel less so, that would just be the best.

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Also, it just so happened that "one day" for me was this week, and boy howdy, was I scared.

When Should You Get Your First Mammogram?

The American Cancer Society says that women ages 40 to 45 should get a mammogram if they wish, and says women should be getting annual mammograms starting at age 45.

I'm only 31 years old. But due to my family history (my mom and other family members), my doctors recommended early screening.

Does Getting a Mammogram Hurt?

*trigger warning: medical pain, trauma*

Without getting into too much detail, I was pretty traumatized in the past by a procedure that a doctor warned me would "only feel like a small pinch"...I have multiple tattoos and piercings, I've been poked, and prodded before. But that, was no. small. pinch. I didn't just scream, I wailed and nearly passed out.

So because of that, I was pretty scared of getting my first mammogram. I was scared of how much pain it would be and if it was truly going to be like everyone had been telling me; slightly painful because of pressure, but nothing bad at all.

I asked friends and family I trusted, and I read up on what the procedure would be like from The Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society, but I still was left with some anxiety.

What Should I Expect During My Mammogram?

After it was all said and done; yes, it was slightly painful, but not nearly pain like the other procedure I mentioned. The first one was a 9, bordering on 10. For a mammogram, I'd say it was about a 2-3 out of 10, and only during the part of the procedure when your breast is actually getting compressed.

The whole mammogram process only took about 10, maybe 15 minutes. During which, your breast is only being compressed for a few seconds at a time. There is quite a bit of pressure for those moments during compression, but nothing that I would describe as being unbearable.

After everything was said and done, I think I was sore for maybe 20 to 30 minutes afterward, but nothing serious. I drove myself home and my seat belt didn't bother me at all. Plus I treated myself to a Target run after because I did such a good job (what can I say, no one gave me a sucker or a sticker...). Screened for cancer and bought a cute sweater on sale? I call that a win-win.

So if you are feeling like I was, scared of getting your first mammogram, I hope this letter has helped ease your worries a bit. And just know that I'm rooting for you!

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