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Why am I so afraid of mammograms?

lola12
lola12 Member Posts: 16
edited December 2021 in Stage I Breast Cancer

Tomorrow I have my mammogram. If all is well, I will be 10 years since my diagnosis.

Each year, life stands still until I get my mammogram. I don't plan and my anxiety goes off the wall. I wish I knew how to control this, I know the odds are good.

Does anyone also experience this? Any coping mechanisms?

Lola

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Comments

  • edj3
    edj3 Member Posts: 1,579

    Well if you're like me, your cancer was discovered by mammogram. So of course that's scary.

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16

    Very true, but the past 9 years have been fine. Grrr. Hopefully I will be 10 years cancer free tomorrow. Fingers crossed.


  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,042

    You are not alone. As someone who had breast cancer twice, IDC in 2003 and ILC in 2018, 15 1/2 years apart, I can honestly say I am the same. The range of my emotions was like the outer edges of a swinging pendulum. Sometimes I had so much anxiety that I seriously felt I didn't want to ever have a mammogram again. Why? Fear. Fear is NOT our friend. It creeps into our minds like a thief and tries to rob us of our sanity.

    I think what you are afraid of is getting cancer again, not the mammogram. If I am wrong, please state that because there is a whole different approach that might help if it is really just the test itself that causes your fear. In my case, I really didn't fear the mammogram, I feared getting the bad news, but going for a mammogram stirred up all that fear.

    What lessens my anxiety when it is time for any breast cancer related test, is to tell myself two things. First, if I have cancer, it is there regardless as to whether or not I have the test, and secondly, it is SO MUCH BETTER to find it as early as possible! There is actually a third thing to remember, the chances are in your favor that it will be completely normal!

    You have a whole lot of support here should you get a less than "negative" result. Try to relax and focus on how you will feel after the mammogram! I hope they give you immediate results. I currently use the cancer hospital where I was treated and I see my doctor immediately afterwards, but even my local hospital where I had mammograms for years, would let me wait and get a copy of the report before I left.

    Hope this helps! I wish you the best result possible!

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16

    You are 100% right Maverick,

    I am not afraid of the test, it is the results for sure. I will get immediate results too.

    It is crazy how worked up I can get, I also go to the same place where I was diagnosed, so its like a yearly flashback.

    Thanks for the advice, I need to remember the odds are that it will be ok.

    Lola


  • wallycat
    wallycat Member Posts: 1,181

    I am eagerly reading this ...I have had a bmx, but my anxiety is through the roof simply making a routine doctor's appointment, much less GOING to it. I can't even get my blood pressure checked because it is through the roof-white-coat-hypertension.

    I know how you are feeling and I wish I had words of wisdom. I have tried meditation and the mantra of "don't borrow problems..." or the "coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave one but just one..." and none of it has been helpful.

    Then my DH got dx with metastatic prostate cancer last year ...and he is the picture of calm; never complains about going, getting scanned, monthly appointments, blah, blah...I start to think it might be a nature/nurture built in response for me, the stress.

    Best to you.

  • LiveLoveLaugh2020
    LiveLoveLaugh2020 Member Posts: 173

    The anxiety is real. I think the majority of us experience this. I hate going to pretty much any doctor now let alone my BS and for imaging, testing etc. Wish this wasn’t the case for us! But I pray that you get benign results! And have a nice glass of wine to celebrate :)

  • sunshine99
    sunshine99 Member Posts: 2,469

    I think we're all wired so differently. Some of us worry, some us don't, and some of us stick our fingers in our ears and chant, "Na na na na na na" so that we can't hear what we don't want to hear. I personally tend to worry about the little stuff. Not, "What will this test show?" but big time worrying over "Will I find a parking spot at the clinic?"

    What works for one of us is useless for someone else. No, worrying won't help anything, but we still do it. Find what relaxes and calms you (chamomile tea does NOTHING for me!) and do that. If it helps to come here and "vent", then do that. You'll not be judged here! :)

    (((hugs)))

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,933

    I don't get nervous about mammograms. I've had other cancers, and for one of those, I get regular CT scans, and those don't make me nervous, either. I'm in a discussion group for that cancer, and I swear, 75% of the posts are about "scanxiety." To me, mammograms and scans are routine maintenance and let me know what's going on with my body. They are also interesting! If there's anything bad going on, I want it caught early, and that's what scans and mammograms are for.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,042

    lola, I hope you come back and post today to let us know how things went for you. Sending cyber hug!

  • bcincolorado
    bcincolorado Member Posts: 4,684

    I think we all get scan=xiety after cancer. I know where I go get mine anyone who has had breast cancer they read right away and let us know and have us wait while it is read before we leave. Then afterwards the official report is typed up and sent off and we get it in the mail as well and sent to the doctors but I know first. Best of luck to you today.

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16

    I will let you all know, each of you are a blessing. I will get the results today.

    Hopefully, I will be reporting that I am officially a 10 year survivor and done with tamoxifen!

    hugs,

    Lola

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16

    Hi Alice,

    I have read your post a few times in the past 10 hours and I must say your outlook has giving me strength. It is maintenance to get a mammogram. Like the Hunger Games movies say, May the odds be forever in each of our favors.

    Lola

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16

    Thank you for the support, all is well, I am officially a 10 year breast cancer survivor.

    Phew. I don’t know what I’d prefer more right now- wine or nap?

    thank you all truly

  • LiveLoveLaugh2020
    LiveLoveLaugh2020 Member Posts: 173

    Yayy congrats! I say wine first, then nap lol :)

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,042

    Woohoo!!!! Congrats on TEN years cancer free!!!! May you have a lifetime of the same result! Oh, and definitely have some wine!

  • dani444
    dani444 Member Posts: 215

    congratulations! Absolutely have the wine 🍷

  • wallycat
    wallycat Member Posts: 1,181

    Excellent! Congrats and *cheers* with a glass of wine!

    Alice, I have reread your post and I also find it most comforting. Perhaps that is how my DH sees it all and it is definitely a worthy interpretation. I'm going to read this before bed and try to commit it to my psyche!

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16

    I agree, Alice, your words were comforting to me. It is maintenance.

    Cheers to each of you.

  • keepthefaith
    keepthefaith Member Posts: 856

    Lola,

    Congratulations! That is awesome news. Good for you:).

    I always tell myself, "just get it over with" when it comes around. Although, I won't lie, when I am in the waiting room, it all comes back to me like it was yesterday.

  • bcincolorado
    bcincolorado Member Posts: 4,684

    Congrats and personally I would say a nap is healthier for you!



  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,933

    So glad it was a good mammo! The right dose of wine will guarantee a really good long nap! 🍷🛌

  • britspeech
    britspeech Member Posts: 5

    Ho Lola 12. Yes, I think most of us have that scanxiety. I'm coming up for my 2nd at the end of the month. I'm also in the Albany area and go to St Peters Breast center for all my mammos/ ultrasounds. We could get, together and chat if you like. Congrats , btw !!

    Sharon

  • purplecat
    purplecat Member Posts: 221

    Although this thread is a little old, all who posted advice and empathy here are helping me today. I have my MRI tonight, followed by my 2nd post-treatment annual mammogram tomorrow morning. It's more common to alternate the two tests every 6 months, and at first I thought I'd feel reassured to never go more than 6 months without being checked. But back in March I was in the middle of a complicated gyno situation and was told it would be fine to wait for the MRI. After that episode finally ended with a hysterectomy last month and I still hadn't had the MRI, I was told it was fine to do the two tests together, since they look for different things. The extended gyno ordeal has left me so very weary of testing and waiting for results and then more testing that I decided to do one stressful week to get as much information as I can at once, and then if I get the all-clear on both tests and no new lumps come up, go a whole year without having to think about breast cancer. And if either or both of the tests come back problematic, we'll have a lot of information available and maybe can do all necessary biopsies in one day.

    So, here goes. The mammogram will be diagnostic, which means it will be in the same place, same waiting room, same view through the windows, etc. where I went for my original call-back 2 years ago. I did diagnostic last year as well, but somehow it's scarier this year. Last year I was nervous but also knew from my original prognosis that it was unlikely for any new cancer to be found so soon. Now it's been TWO years, and there are women on this forum who have had recurrences that soon, so it feels like I could once again get called back into that room for additional testing and then a consult with the nurse and then schedule a biopsy. It's going to be very hard to sit again in that waiting room among other nervous gowned women while I wait for my results to be read and the nurse to come out and get me. I almost turned down the diagnostic appointment to just schedule the ordinary kind where you go in and get squeezed and then go home and forget about it until the letter comes, but then I have to wait longer and potentially go back. There's just no good way out of this.

    I'm not afraid of the tests, it's the results. More specifically, the moment where I'm about to hear the results and learn if my whole world is about to change or just go back to normal. And the time of uncertainty between bad results and having a treatment plan. That's the worst. It took me a week to work up the courage to even schedule the mammogram this time because I was agonizing over whether it would be worse do to my waiting for a short time in the "bad news" waiting room where I had my original testing, or to do it for a longer time in the privacy of my own home like a normal person.

    Things I'm telling myself: Yes, they may find cancer again, but I've done treatment before and can do it again if necessary. I've gotten so much bad and uncertain and unsettling news in the past 2 years, but it all turned out OK and I am still here. I'm already in the system and have a surgeon so can get the ball rolling pretty quickly if needed. My treatment center is really wonderful and takes care of me both physically and emotionally, so if I get bad news, I'll still leave the place feeling as positive as possible. Recurrence is still unlikely and I'm doing everything I can to prevent it. If I do get one, we're catching it as early as possible. It's not bad news until they tell you there's nothing more they can do, and no matter what happens tonight and tomorrow, I'm pretty unlikely to hear that.

    Hoping to update in a few days.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,990

    In your pocket for the testing Purple Cat. Hope all turns out well. Please come back & let us know.

  • dani444
    dani444 Member Posts: 215

    Thinking of you as you get your imaging done! Hope you get quick, clear results! Let us know how it goes.

  • kksmom3
    kksmom3 Member Posts: 101

    I am 2 years out as well. I hate even just driving by the hospital, ok, cancer center. I'll send up a prayer that everything will be fine. Nobody gets this either.......

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,933

    I try to think of mammograms and CTs (which I need for the kidney cancer I had) as preventive maintenance. I kind of look forward to them as proof that I DON'T have cancer any more.

  • purplecat
    purplecat Member Posts: 221

    Thank you, all, for taking the time to respond with kind words of support and tips. I got the all clear at my mammogram this morning! I was completely expecting to hear bad news, not based on any symptoms, just the kind of year it’s been, and can still hardly believe I got to just walk out of there. So I’m still processing but very relieved.

    Still waiting for MRI results, but thinking they’ll probably going to be OK too. My original cancer was caught on a 2D mammogram and was almost too small to see. My surgeon actually commended the reader on the good catch but also sent me for MRI to make sure nothing had been missed in my dense tissue. That MRI didn’t find anything but the known cancer. So, I feel like if a 2D mammogram was accurate for me two years ago, this morning’s 3D is probably at least as accurate now, even as I realize an unpleasant surprise could still be ahead. I discovered how anxious I still am about that possibility about 2 hours after the mammogram, still basking in relief, when saw I’d missed a phone call from the scheduling department. My first thought was that they were calling to set up a biopsy for something showing on the MRI. It took all the courage I had remaining, which wasn’t much after this morning’s appointment, just to listen to the voice mail. It was a reminder to schedule my colonoscopy! I actually laughed out loud. Good grief, colon people, give a girl a break! I’ll get around to you, I promise, but I’d like just a little tiny bit of time with no pending results or medical appointments on my calendar, so you’re going to have to take a number.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,990

    PurpleCat - good news indeed. Thanks for posting.

  • quinnie
    quinnie Member Posts: 113

    Alice: I am the same way. I look forward to scans and tests to show I don't have any issues. I was unpleasantly surprized last Jan when I was called back and fast foward had cancer in the other breast. Still, all is good. Early stage, small and is gone. I had mammo last week and still wasn't nervous but looking forward to a good result. In other areas i am an anxious person but in regards to my health I feel it is what it is. I do everything I can to lead a healthy life-most of the time!!!