As you are most likely aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You see the commercials on TV about various companies making donations to the research for a cure, and Castleview Hospital and the South Eastern Utah Health Department have been running ads in the Sun Advocate encouraging women to have a mammogram this month.
I think it was the ad from Castleview Hospital that first got me thinking.
I am a graphic artist here at the Sun Advocate, and my job is to create a lot of the ads you see on these pages. I have seen that Mammogram ad from Castleview in October for the last several years, but this time something hit me. I am 45 years old, and until today, I had never had a mammogram. I am ashamed to admit that my self-exams are cursory at best, and not all that frequent either.
In any case, the Castleview ad had the wheels in my mind turning and within a day I had contacted my insurance company to see if they covered mammograms-which they did, and then I called the Radiology Department at Castleview.
The lady I spoke to there was very nice, even looking up the cost of the procedure for me. She suggested that I contact my doctor to get an order for the mammogram. Vicky, the nurse who works with Dr. Radley, called me back the same afternoon to tell me that they had just faxed my order over to Radiology and even offered to set up an appointment for me. I opted to contact them myself and she suggested that I wait until the next morning just to allow the paperwork to get funneled into the proper place.
The next day I arrived at the Sun Advocate and called Castleview's Radiology Department as soon as I got to my desk. Sure enough, they had the mammogram order from Dr. Radley's office and together we agreed on an appointment for me on October 16 at 8:30 a.m.
That morning I woke up early, a bit nervous about the whole procedure. All those silly jokes about mammograms and the discomfort experienced during them were running through my head, specifically one likening the procedure to getting your breast caught in an automatic garage door!
But, undaunted, I arrived for my appointment at 8:15 a.m. and after registering was directed to the waiting room. Within 15 minutes I was being called in by Tacie, the Radiology Technician. She brought me into the anteroom, gave me one of those ever-so-fashionable hospital gowns and told me to remove my clothes from the waist up and put on the gown so that it opened from the front.
After a brief health history, Tacie took me over to the C-Senegraph DMR+, better known as the mammogram machine. This is a pretty amazing piece of equipment, the various components are completely adjustable to the patient's height, and able to rotate 90 degrees .
I have to say that the procedure, while not something that I would want to do every day, was not the horrible experience I was expecting. Tacie was wonderful, very gentle and kind, explaining each step to me. She checked the x-rays to verify that they were good and then told me I could change. Tacie also pointed out the variety of literature in the anteroom and told me I could take anything with me that I wanted. I did take the purse-size 2004 calendar with a set of 12 stickers, which I could put on one day of each month to remind me it was time for a self-exam, as well as a special sticker reminding me to make an appointment for my next mammogram. I have already stuck that one on October 1, 2004.
I was back in my truck and driving to work at 8:59 a.m., so the whole procedure took less than 45 minutes. Not too long a time for what could be a lifesaving test.
I guess the reason I decided to write this, even though I am not a reporter, is because I want to encourage every woman who is of the suggested age to get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society suggests that women age 35 should get what they call a baseline mammogram-this is to give your physician something to compare future mammograms to. After age 40, a yearly mammogram is suggested, and of course, they suggest self-examinations on a monthly basis.
I'm glad I took the step and I wish every woman would.