My first mamogram

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pink ribbons raise breast cancer awareness
Did you know that one in eight women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer?  It is something that touches the lives of so many people, I felt it was important to write a blog post about my experience with the screening process.  You can also perform breast self-exams on a monthly basis to become familiar with your breast tissue.  That way, if anything changes you will recognize the difference (Follow me on Twitter to see my monthly reminders to preform your self-exam on the first of every month.).

This year I turned 40.  In the USA, this is the age where you can start receiving annual mamograms (I would imagine this depends on your private health insurance policy).  However, in the UK, the procedure is not provided until you reach the age of 50 (every three years and up to age of 71) if treatment is provided on the NHS (they are looking to extending this from 47-73).  If you have a family history of breast cancer, screening may be provided earlier.

Warnings on the door where I had my mamogram
One of my best friend's from university was born four days after me.  Her mom is a breast cancer survivor.  Because of this, I decided to get a mamogram this year.  It is available on private health insurance for £122 (and my friend's mom even offered to pay for it). So I contacted Simplyhealth UK to see if the mamogram would qualify under the diagnostic scans benefit, for which I am allowed a maximum of £500 on my plan.  And yes it is!  I spoke to my mom about what to expect during the procedure (of course) and she said there can be some discomfort during the process.  A mamogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue, which means that the breast is squeezed between two plates.  My breasts are not huge but they did get a really good squeeze for about 15 seconds while the nurse set up the proper angle and moved behind the lead screen and take the x-ray.  The receptionist I booked with appointment with said it would take 15 minutes but mine took about eight.

The x-ray machine which takes the mamogram.
My mom told me that she has dense breast tissue and needs to have an ultrasound after her mamogram as part of her annual appointment.  I was worried this would be the case for me but the nurse who performed my mamogram didn't think this would be the case based on my images.  My friend who's mom had breast cancer informed me that in the US, patients are often called back for another mamogram  after their initial one as there is no baseline to compare the x-ray to.  I haven't heard of this happening in the UK though.

The only picture of my boobs on the internet to date.
My nurse told me my results would be sent via the post within two weeks.  One week later, I received a letter saying my results were considered to be normal.  I didn't expect to have a scare, but it was still a relief to read that letter.

I received my reimbursement from Simpyhealth UK within 24 hours of submitting my claim. I will continue to invest in my health by continuing a yearly private mamogram until the NHS will provide me year.  It might be surprising that I am worried about breast cancer at the age of 40 and without a family history of the disease.  Touch wood, I have been blessed not to have devastating cancer diagnoses within my immediate family.  And I would like to keep it that way.  Preventative medicine is something I 100% believe in.

Have you ever had a mamogram? What was your experience?

This post is sponsored by Simplyhealth UK.  Click here to learn more about their Active Health plan.

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