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Does getting a mammogram make you really nervous, either before and/or after the test?

By Expert HERWriter February 25, 2009 - 9:50pm
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I was having coffee with a friend of mine today, and she was telling me about the mammogram she had on Monday afternoon. She confessed to me that while she doesn't really worry about the health of her breasts during most of the year, scheduling a mammogram, and then waiting for the results make her really nervous and antsy.

Mind you, my friend could be the poster child for the breast self-examination--she is religious about doing her exam every single month on the same exact day of her cycle. She has no family history of breast cancer, nor does she have really any of the risk factors. And she had just had a clinical exam last week at her OB/GYN and everything felt normal. And speaking of the annual exam, she said getting a pap smear and waiting for those results is no big deal at all. It's just the mammogram that gets her all riled up.

Listening to her talk got me to thinking about her feelings, and if they are fairly common, so I wanted to post her story on here to see if anyone else has this same reaction to mammograms. If so, why do you suppose it happens? I asked my friend if she knew where her anxiety might be coming from, and she said it's probably because breast cancer is talked about all of the time in magazine articles and other places, and as she put it "it's like it's standing on a dark corner waiting to jump out at us."

I really do feel for her. I don't think I get as nervous as she does, but I sure do like to get that phone call each time telling me that the results are, thank God, normal. And I know in my heart my friend's results will be just fine too.

Add a Comment11 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Hi Anon,

It's me, Michelle.... I was in such a hurry to respond to your post that I forgot to log in.

I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how hard it must be for you ever time you go into have your mammogram. Can I make a suggestion to you??? There are a lot of places now that will read your mammogram right then and there. No one wants to wait. I don't like waiting in the waiting area with my gown on...waiting for them to tell me everything is fine and I can get dressed. That's too long for me!!

Can you find a great place to go where they can read your results right away? That would surely cut down on your anxiety.

Where do you live? Maybe there are other women, on our site, that live in your area that can recommend a different facility.

Please take some deep breaths and know that we're thinking about you here at EmpowHer. Go treat yourself. You deserve it. Even if it's just taking time to get your nails done or relax with your favorite CD.

Please get back with me when you get your results. I want to hear that "OK" from you.

Big hugs,

March 30, 2009 - 6:27pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Michelle, wow what a FAST respnonse. i just cuddled on the couch with my dogs and watched Oprah. I never do that. I am always on the go.. Today I thought i better relax and give my body a rest..

We have a great digital mammography here in the Napa Valley.. The hospital has a great reputation. I got nervous because she said she needed another view becuae it looked like my shoulder? was in the way and the next pic she said was not as clear as she wanted and off I went. I watched her face trying to read it. It really sucks. I am a transcriptionist for that same hospital and I came back home to work and what do I type!!! a 40 year old with BC.. What are the odds of that!!! I thought is there no escape! I woudl have had a massage but i had one yesterday and have one scheduled for WEd just in case I need it.. I am very athletic, in great shape but a real worry wart. I dont even enjoy an alcoholic beverage because of my fear. I will let you know when I hear the results and I hope I get another reprieve. Thanks so much for your support. Glad I found this site. Cross your fingers.. Carol

March 30, 2009 - 7:26pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am in waiting as we speak. Lost a sister to the disease. I dont think if I get cancer, its when I get Breast cancer. That is what I live with all the time. I have thought about have surgery to remove breasts but cant afford. I lie in waiting.. everytime the phone rings, i get sick and when I get the ok results, i relax for another year. Not fun being me.

March 30, 2009 - 5:29pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Hi, Anon:

I can understand your fear. But, you're doing the right thing for yourself by getting the mammogram. Stop worrying and allow yourself to enjoy life.

How are you feeling after your mammogram today?

March 30, 2009 - 5:40pm
EmpowHER Guest

As breast cancer runs rampant in my family, I started receiving mammograms once every 3 years since I was 25 years old. I cannot say that I am not fearful every time I get checked because I am. The anticipation kills me every time since I am at high risk.

My Mother is a breast cancer survivor twice over. The best medicine is to get checked and when you catch it early, your chances of survival are better. I love the idea that your friend checks herself monthly. That’s a great idea and period time would be best since you will always remember.

March 1, 2009 - 10:20am
EmpowHER Guest

"Time is sensitive."

These are the words that we live with.

Look back at yourself as a child. Remember how once upon a time there was nothing other than unique. Back then, you couldn't be anything other than unique, could you? Ah, all those days basking in the sun.

Now, the great "deterrent" has arrived. I should say that I sense your fear. Yet, fear not! For since the time has come, I shall remind you that your whole life is in front of you. Once you return from your thoughtful moment, I reckon you might appreciate this gesture, "Nothing can take a way the years to come." There is no one that can take that time from you. You are the strength in an "oceanic world." There are many variations now aren't they? So search for your strength and take part.

Ah yes, my world... my world...

-- Team E.Z.

February 28, 2009 - 12:40am
HERWriter Guide

I'm terribly practical in this regard. Maybe it's because I knew all about breast cancer before I could even read.
I've had mammograms since I was 28. Doesn't bother me at all. They don't hurt, are far more comfortable than say, a pap test, and they take less than 5 minutes. The whole "squishing" thing has been blown out of proportion.

If I get breast cancer I plan to tackle it head on as soon as I am diagnosed. I just get the mammograms annually, like a pap or an annual physical evaluation. I don't think about it much; if I get cancer then I know what to do about it.

Of course the wait is a little tense - it's that way for everything.

The staff where I go are fantastic; they make a person feel very comfortable and the process is very, very fast.

While I understand people's fears, and they are legitimate - I'd take a 'gram over a pap or even a teeth cleaning any day of the week.

February 27, 2009 - 12:28pm

I've had mammograms for about 10 years now. Yes, there is some anxiety each time. Not about the mammogram itself, but in waiting for the results: do you have a clean bill of health for another year?

I have found over the years that if you go to a hospital or a women's center for your mammogram (instead of, say, just a general radiology dept), you get a much different experience. Everything from dressing rooms to the staff is more oriented to make it less stress-inducing.

For those of you who haven't yet had a mammogram, I wrote a post about what happens during one and what the experience is like:


February 27, 2009 - 9:51am
EmpowHER Guest

I was sent to have a mammogram after discovering a lump. I was scared to death the day of the exam and the weeks to follow until I received my results.
Thank goodness things went well. I have cystic breast so they always feel a little lumpy.It was an uncomfortable experience.

February 26, 2009 - 8:43pm

Digital mammography gives you the results right away, if you ask and wait. Usually, (no lunch time appointments) there is a radiologist on staff viewing the pictures. If you are very anxious, I think when you schedule your appointment express your concerns and then state them again in person to every one you talk with before and during your appointment. No one is going to call you a baby, honestly. The staff would welcome a heads up before some one experieinces and anxiety attack mid film or in the dressing room, or sets off other women in the waiting room!
As a breast cancer survivor, mammograms are a cake walk compared to other procedures. A little bit of discomfort is worth it compared to years of real discomfort if cancer is not detected early.

Remember, wear a skirt or pants, no dress or jumper so you only remove the top half of your clothes. Easier, faster and you stay warmer.

February 26, 2009 - 2:57pm
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