Well it had to come sooner or later, I guess. My mother had it but survived from her 60s to her 70s before it finally got her.
The NHS kindly offers women over 50 mammograms every three years. This is often enough apparently (I checked the research) to give the NHS acceptable statistics in preventing women from dying from it. Personally I am rather more interested in knowing I haven't got it than giving the NHS a performance statistic. So I try to have one every year somewhere or other on my travels.
I was planning to have one this summer in Vilnius, as it's cheap and quick (results the same day) and they give you the mammogram to take away as a souvenir. I have quite a collection to show next time now.
But when I got home in June an appointment was waiting for me. Of course it was after I was going back but I managed to change it and get it done during the week I was actually home. You can't get the results at the same time as the NHS prefers to lose them for you or give you someone else's results instead.
I asked whether it was possible to check whether they were OK, so they didn't have to call me back to redo them as I wasn't planning to come back till September. The receptionist then told me I might not be able to have it done at all. Before I began to talk about patient rights as a taxpayer etc, she backed down. In fact the radiographer did do one plate again just in case.
I don't know what other women find about having mammograms but you would think that someone would have found a better way by now to find lumps than squashing your tits flat between two X ray plates. Apparently young breasts are too dense (read unsquashable) to Xray so they only have to be done with ultrasound. In Eastern Europe there is none of the delicacy of the British NHS: be so kind as to stand here with your head and arm here, no that's not quite right, can we try again? In Vilnius, they just push you into place on the machine and get on with squashing you. It gets it over with quicker in the end.
So when I was called back again I didn't know what to expect. They had found "something" in the right breast. They had already X-rayed this twice, so it couldn't be a dud x-ray. So Sloph took the afternoon off, for education and moral support, and came with me. She wasn't allowed into the X-ray room to see the repeat performance with special device to squash the tit even thinner in the particular spot where the "something" was. But she was allowed to watch the ultrasound.
It was nice to have the consultant radiographer point out where the "something" was on the X-ray but neither of us could see it anyway, so we were glad when she didn't think it was anything. Then we were shown where it was on the ultrasound, and neither of us was any the wiser either. Sloph had a fit of giggles when the consultant said she was finding it difficult to get a good contact round the nipple.
So I live to enjoy more mammograms in future and nothing to worry about for another year.
Sloph Bee and I invented a new ritual: the post breast cancer scare celebration dinner and went off to the Kasbar, a tapas bar on Cowley Road which I wrote about here.
As Bee was off on her interrailing soon, we also found the need to go for a post breast cancer scare celebration brunch at the Grand Cafe next day.
Technorati Tags: breast cancer, mammogram