Taking the Next Step into Mature Adulthood

I had my baseline mamm.ogram yesterday.  Something I've been avoiding my entire 39th year.  The thought of jamming myself into that machine felt like yet another injustice of being a woman.  Seriously, can't they come up with ways to look into our parts without squeezing, scraping, poking and prodding non-stop?  I didn't want to do it, but knew that if I didn't, my next doctor appointment would result in "you really need to go do this...blah blah blah"  and I don't feel like getting lectured.

Luckily, there's a hospital near my work that has a bre.ast center so last week I called up thinking that it would be at least a few weeks before they could get me in.  Because, everyone is getting their bo.obs smashed, right?  I suppose it was lucky that they had openings yesterday so that I could just get the whole thing over with.  As my afternoon appointment approached, I got increasingly nervous about the procedure.  Yes, nervous about something that doesn't involve stirrups, dil.do wands, catheters or uter.ine biopsies.  Odd, don't you think?  I've been through the wringer of testing in recent years, and this one simple quick procedure was freaking me the fuck out.

I arrived at the center, was warmly greeted, and checked in.  The woman taking my registration information was kind and warm, and efficiently got all my paperwork taken care of.  Then I was led back to the changing room by someone else who handed me a hospital gown.  Sure it was your typical ugly hospital gown, but it was thoughtfully warmed up as if it had just come out of the dryer.  Just that little touch was comforting as I changed. I waited a few short minutes and the technician came in to get me.  She explained the 3-D test, how many times I'd be getting smashed and then got me set up for the first round.  Four times I was positioned, smashed and held the pose for about 15 seconds.  It felt pinchy, but not really painful.  At the end of my test she showed me what I look like and stated that it's a good thing I elected to do the 3-D imaging as I have super dense tissue.  Then it was time to get dressed and out the door.  Because I was the only patient there, the entire experience took 20 minutes from start to finish.  Easy, right?

While the density is not a big surprise to me given my size and lack of pregnancy, what I didn't know was that it makes me more at risk for developing can.cer.  So, on top of other risk factors like not getting pregnant and liking my wine, I now have this risk factor.  Granted, I don't smoke, I exercise a lot, and I eat healthy, which helps offset my love of wine and beer. I also don't have family history except for paternal grandmother (I think).  I found a risk calculator here http://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool/  and funny enough, it doesn't ask how much I drink or anything about density.  It does show a slightly elevated risk of 0.6% compared to 0.5% over the next 5 years given that I haven't been pregnant.  Over my lifetime I apparently have a 11% chance of developing it.  I know this is all generalized, but it's kind of nice to put it in context with all those numbers that get thrown about.  Basically it looks like I may be about average unless the density plays as much a part as they say it does.  Then it's looking like 25% over the next 5 years and about 50% over my lifetime.  Yet another thing to be watching for.