6 Reasons Having My First Mammogram Terrifies Me

OMG 17

mammogramI can't say that I'm particularly looking forward to it (at all) -- but in another couple weeks, I'll be getting my very first mammogram. And I honestly didn't think I'd be having one for at least a few more years. I'm only 36 and I always thought mammograms weren't anything I'd have to deal with until I turned 40.

But in an effort to conquer my anxiety about having one and go ahead and get it over with -- my appointment is booked and I'm taking the plunge.

And I guess since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my decision to have one couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. Plus, it's no secret that mammograms are such a huge part of early breast cancer detection, so to say they are a little important is a huge understatement.

Still -- having that appointment looming over my head already has my stomach churning, and something tells me it's not going to get any easier as the date approaches.

More from The Stir: 5 Things You May Not Know About Mammograms

Here are the six main reasons I'm absolutely terrified of getting a mammogram.

  1. It's going to hurt -- I might as well start with the obvious fear-inducing factor, the pain. I know the darn thing isn't going to feel like a massage, and friends and family members have given descriptions of their mammograms ranging from "it's a little uncomfortable" to "it hurts like hell." Needless to say, I'm a bit apprehensive about having my boobs squished by a machine.
  2. I'll feel claustrophobic -- The older I get, the more I dislike feeling like I'm confined and can't freely move about. I know this won't be as bad as an MRI, but I still don't like the idea of having to sit still while this contraption grabs me.
  3. It's a sign of my age -- Yes, I know that's really shallow. But having my first mammogram is like crossing some invisible threshold into over-the-hill territory -- and I'm just not sure I'm ready to do it.
  4. It might show something -- OMG. What if a lump pops up on the scan? Yes, I know that's the whole point -- but screening for breast cancer and actually having breast cancer are two different things.
  5. It might miss something -- What if everything is all clear on the scan, so I figure I'm totally fine, and then I get complacent and don't do monthly breast exams because I figure if there was anything there the mammogram would've caught it? It's like a false security blanket, or something.
  6. Some studies say mammograms do more harm than good -- Ugh. Way to fill my head with all sorts of "what the hell am I supposed to do" kinds of thoughts. What if the scan does the complete opposite of what it's supposed to and my breast cancer risk isn't any lower?

So there you have it. I'm having my first mammogram, and I'm freaking out a little bit about it. (No really, I think I might start to cry.) That's totally normal, right?

Have you had a mammogram yet?


Image via themozhi's pixel displays/Flickr

breast cancer, breasts


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Tracys2 Tracys2

Yes, it was quick, easy and (for me) painless, despite the fact that I did none of the suggested things, like cutting out caffeine and whatever. They had me standing up, and while the machine was in front of me, it was not at all claustrophobic- more like standing in front of a stove (well, only the machine is weird)

I did remember not to wear deoderant. That's the only thing I'm afraid to mess up! AndI was in and out of the office in <15 minutes, and the results came back in only a couple days.

My GP says to only go every 2 years at first, so you minimise the risk.

nonmember avatar Sharon

Very interesting and quite honest. Maybe I can help. First of all, you are being proactive with your health care and that is always a positive. I once heard that we all need to be the CEO of our own body. So, here goes:
1. It won't tickle. But the pain is tolerable and depends on the person. Ask if they have the disposable foam pads to put on the machine. They charge me $5 but it's very helpful. If you've had a baby this is a piece of cake in comparison.
2. You will be in a room bigger than your average exam room, they're usually very open, and you'll be standing not sitting. Each view takes only a few seconds. It's more time consuming getting your breast into the machine.
3. I had my first mammo at 35 as a baseline (thank goodness) and didn't have to have them yearly until I was 40. At 45 I considered myself a bit on the ancient side, that is until I had my mammogram that year. I came out with a positive for B/C. After that I was definitely too young to die. It's 11 years later and I still think of myself as young!
4. "IF" it shows anything you will get help from your doctors and take everything one day at a time.
5. Talk to the staff or your doctor about the odds of something being missed. Hopefully it will help with any anxiety about that.
6. Fortunately there are also a lot of studies that show the benefits of early detection. Go with your gut, you know yourself the best.
Good Luck with the test. I think you'll be happy you had it!

nonmember avatar annmarie

Not a bad test to have done

youth... youthfulsoul

I have been having yearly exams since I was 33 because of a breast reduction surgery. They are definitely not fun and yes they are extremely uncomfortable. But I wouldn't equate clostrophobic with a mammogram. They are open and you just stand against it. Good luck, and if you get a call back for a closer look, try not to worry. I've been called back for more detailed X-rays about 50% of the time.

Jenna... Jennasmom08

I had one this year- 34 yrs old. Not painful, very easy, and it made me feel much better to know there was nothing there.

nonmember avatar Lori

I had my first one last week. In my opinion, it was no big deal. I wouldn't want to get one everyday, or anything, but for me it was way less disturbing than my annual Pap smear.

Lissette Rodriguez J

I get them every year being a person that has had 2 breast lumps, both found by self exam and both benign, I guess I am used to them already. The pain really depends on the skill of the person doing the exam. I happen to be large breasted so it is a bit uncomfortable and claustrophobic but it's quick so you should be fine. I applaud you for taking the step. Good luck.

MomOwl MomOwl

go you for getting it done early. I had my first one ahahst 5 years ago now (at the age of 30) b/c I had a lump that was growing. Thank goodness it was just a lactoma and benign.

Donnell Hurkman

I had my first one done in my early to mid 20 i was very scared one i was very young to be having this kind of test done. I had to have it done because i had what was found out to be a cyst and nothing more. I asked many questions and the people who where there to perform the test was very caring and answered all my questions and did not hurt nearly as much as i thought it would. Just a little uncomfortable more than anything. I am glad i had it done for many reasons. It is well worth all the fears that come to mind when you think about having one done.


i love getting a mamogram, seriously i must be a freak or something but i love it. i have been getting them for about 10 years, after i found a lump myself at age 30, and it was cancer, if i would have waited another 10 years i would be dead by now, so after a lumpectomy and some radiation and chemo, everytime i go in and they tell me i am in the clear i do a happy dance. i'll take a boob squish over chemo and radiation anyday. as i like to say its better to be proactive than dead :)

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