I’m one of those radiation-phobic people who doesn’t even like going through security at the airport. I rarely go to the dentist because I don’t want to get the mouth x-rays. That blast is just a little too close to my brain. Don’t judge, in my 51 years on Planet Earth, I’ve NEVER had a cavity so I don’t feel bad about skipping this appointment. Whenever I have an x-ray of any kind I notice they way the person administering it always moves as far away from me as possible before pushing the button. Comforting.
And so a couple of weeks ago I took my phobic self to my local hospital to have my annual mammogram. I felt conflicted. I still do. Just Google “pros and cons of mammograms” and you’ll see why. I’ve read articles about false negatives, false positives and unnecessary doses of radiation. But I had the test because my doctor wants me to have a mammogram every year.
Women over 40 know what I went through. I’ll spare the details for the benefit of the young ladies as well as the one or two men who read my posts (Hi, Cousin Robert!).
Fast forward to last week. My letter from the Center for Breast Health was waiting for me when I got home from work. “We are pleased to inform you that the result of your recent breast imaging examination shows no features to suggest cancer.” I read that and enjoyed my annual sigh of relief. But I thought about it for a while and realized that the wording is a bit vague. The letter didn’t say, “Hey, Pam. Go have a party. YOU DO NOT HAVE BREAST CANCER!”
The letter doesn’t make me feel any better, nor does it make me feel nervous. But I remain conflicted about whether or not to have the test each year. Next year I’ll have a conversation with my physician and share my concerns before automatically making the appointment. If she insists I go, I’ll likely go.
In the meantime, I’d like to know your opinion. If you’re 50 or older, do you get mammograms each year? Why or why not?