My First Mammogram at Age 30

I’m 30 and I just had my first mammogram and ultrasound. I’ve decided to talk about this topic openly here, despite it not having any relation to my regular craft posts because I feel that there are not enough young women talking about breast cancer. Hence, I have not really paid much attention to my own breasts.

At my age, none of my previous doctors have ever offered to do a breast examination on me, even when I’ve mentioned my family’s breast cancer history. But I’ve been seeing an excellent doctor regularly over the last year and when it was time for my regular pap smear, she also suggested that it was a good time to do a breast exam.

She asked me whether I’ve self-examined my breasts before and I told her honestly that even though I have, I can’t really tell whether there are abnormalities. You see, I am thin and have small breasts. Everything just feels like breast tissue to me. But the doctor did find lumps on both breasts which does not feel like normal breast tissue. She said not to worry and to go get a mammogram and ultrasound. This happened just prior to leaving for Singapore and I had to wait until I came home from the trip before I could make the appointment. So it’s been quite an anxious few weeks from the discovery to the actual mammogram and ultrasound.

When I was at the clinic and was directed to the mammogram room by a young female technologist, I felt rather shy and nervous. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. She asked me a few questions and explained the procedure to me. I asked her naively how she is going to squeeze my small breasts between the two plates. She answered, “We have ways to do it”. Her so-called ways were to gently pull and squeeze my breast into place. Then the plates pressed down very hard on the breast before she quickly ran over to the computer to take the scan. Each breast was scanned from top to bottom and side to side.

Well, besides being rather embarrassing and slightly painful, the right breast scan went without much of a hitch. But the left breast scan hurt like hell! One of the lumps that my GP found was in the top of my left breast and when the two plates squeezed down from top to bottom, I was in so much pain, I was tapping the machine and let out a little scream. I begged her to loosen the plates but she apologized and quickly ran over to the computer to get the scan and ran back to release me! Arrrgghhh. I still feel weak just thinking of it! Then I still had to do the side to side scan on the same breast but luckily that was fine.

She apologised and said that the pain was probably from a cyst. “Cyst! What?! Is that bad?” I asked worriedly. She said the ultrasound will show more. We looked at my mammogram scans on her computer screen and she said that she couldn’t see anything abnormal. Most lumps come and go depending on hormone levels.

My ultrasound sonographer was a young British man named Simon. It was weird being in the room alone with him, exposing my gel-covered breasts to a total male stranger. We chatted about where we were from and how we felt living in Australia now. Conversation was light and easy but not enough for me to forget why I was there. He found quite a few lumps in both my breasts and one was a rather large one at the top of my left breast. The cyst. He said it was difficult to say whether lumps are good or bad but from what he can tell, they all look harmless.

“What makes you think it’s harmless?” I asked. He replied that he can easily see behind and around the lump via ultrasound. It’s not a solid looking mass which is uneven. “But you cannot tell for sure unless we do a biopsy, which is up to your doctor,” he concluded. Right. He thanked me quickly and told me that was all for today.

Well, I’ve discussed the results with my GP. The lump of concern is on my right breast and it is most likely benign. However, we will ultrasound it again in six months to see whether there are any changes. The pain I felt during the mammogram on my left breast is probably from the mammary glands being squashed and no, there is no cyst as thought by the technicians.

Despite the ackward, embarrasing and slightly painful experience, I’m really glad that I have done this. The most important thing is that I have started a record of my breasts for future reference and it has given me peace of mind. I hope that by sharing my experience I have started some of you thinking about your breasts and general health and well-being.

Thanks for allowing me to digress and we’ll be talking about crafts as per usual on Friday. :)

{ 12 comments }

12 Responses to “My First Mammogram at Age 30”

  1. WOW!! That sounds very scary. I pray that all goes well for you and that you are okay.

    Nicole Pipkin’s last blog post..mother’s day afghans…

  2. pixie says:

    I’ve never had a mamo, but I’ve had two ultrasounds. I had a lump when I breastfed, the ultrasound showed it was full of milk so they can stick a needle in you and express it so they did. It wasn’t awful at all, neither was the ultrasound (I still fear mamos!) Then I went back like a year later after I was done BF’ing and had a painful one again, and so they again took the clogged milk out. I got the bill, it was $500!! I would not have even bothered to have gone back (those can dry up on there own over time, it was just way on the side and the bra would hit it and it would hurt. UGH! The first one was actually quiet big and made one my my sides larger then the other so that’s another reason I wanted to do it the second time, and of course to make sure.

    So now I’ll be breastfeeding again and not looking forward for my boob bills! UGH :( I’m 30 now as well but I have a feeling they will want to wait until I am done breastfeeding before doing a mamo, so it may be another 2 years for me (haven’t given birth yet and would need to give them time to “dry out”).

  3. Oiyi says:

    This sounded all very scary.Thank you for sharing and good luck.

  4. Kristin says:

    Ugh. I’ve been there, done both.

    I’m 35, and have suspected ‘fibercystic change’ (the current term…it was fibercystic disease when I was a teen, even though it’s not at all a ‘disease’) since I was about 15. Just before we got pregnant with our 2nd about 4 years ago, my doc found a lump during a routine exam. Away to the ultrasound I went because we didn’t want to put off our baby efforts. At that point it was officially diagnosed as fibercystic change, which basically means I have lumpy, bumpy breast tissue that is not at all ‘normal’ and will cause problems to the end of my days. (self-exams are literally pointless) A much bigger lump two years ago propelled me in for my first mammogram. All is well, but I’m glad we now have a baseline on file for future reference!

    Kristin’s last blog post..The Monday List

  5. Umi says:

    Alhamdulillah. Thank God. I’m so relieved and happy for you. I’ll be going for my ultra sound again in a couple of months. I live in constant fear and hope. Let’s pray that all of us will be in good health. Take care!

  6. Katie says:

    That must have been a scary experience. I hope everything works out fine – I think a lot of people just keep putting it off because they think it’s too late. It’s never too late, so you’ve shown here. Hopefully someone will read this and it’ll give them the courage to go and have a pap smear or ultrasound.

    Katie’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  7. Salihan says:

    Nicole: Thanks Nicole :)

    Pixie: Thank you for sharing your story with me and congratulations on the third child! I hope that this time around you would have no clogged milk ducts! Ouch. Fingers crossed!

    Oiyi: Thanks Oiyi! :)

    Kristin: Thanks so much for sharing your story! It must have been worrying for you to have heard that in your teens and just before your second pregnancy. But you’re right, it’s good to have a baseline for future reference, even though the experience might be uncomfortable.


    Umi: If it wasn’t for you sharing your history with me, I don’t think the doctor would have taken me too seriously. Sharing family medical history is so important I think. Thanks for doing that.

    Katie: Thank you Katie. :)

  8. dianagraff says:

    hi Salihan, how brave of you to speak of this, I think after this year I will get one done too.. Iam turning 31 in June, it won’t be as bad for me, I have been proved touched and had breast pulled by my 2 babies… oh and nurses trying to teach me to breastfeed… so the shame is all gone now ;) but the nerves will be hard to beat, good for you to bring this up
    * hugs *
    diana from Canada

    dianagraff’s last blog post..Icecream Cones Crochet style

  9. Salihan says:

    Thanks Diana. As a young woman with no children and not used to having her breasts touched and pulled, I felt self-conscious. But I’m sure the next time around won’t be half as bad. Have a good week! :)

  10. sukigirl says:

    You’re a very smart woman to get this done and it’s wonderful that you shared this.
    I have a lot of cysts so it is really important for me to have a mammogram each year since it would be easy for me to miss spotting a lump .
    My cysts make the examination more painful than usual but it gives me peace of mind for the whole year knowing that I’m doing everything to protect myself so it is really small price to pay.

    sukigirl’s last blog post..Mismatched socks

  11. Nadine says:

    Great post! It’s hard to get a mammogram here in Canada unless you’re a certain age. Good for you for being persistent.

  12. Salihan says:

    Sukigirl: I am so glad that I have brought this topic up cos of all the experiences readers like you are sharing with me. Thank you so much for opening up like that, Sukigirl. It means a lot to me.

    Nadine: Thank you Nadine! I hope things in Canada gets easier for young women to get mammograms. Take care and have a good week!

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