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Why am I so afraid of mammograms?

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  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    I don't think of myself as having scanxiety or being nervous for tests. But I notice that I am going for my mammogram on Monday and and my productivity has been in the floor the last couple of days while my appetite has been through the roof and now that I think about it, maybe I am a lot more nervous than I let myself connect with.

    It's a bit helpful to realize this because I can be a bit easier on myself now.

    I'm only two years out. I'm 41 and this is all also a reminder of how my life is different than I ever thought it would be at this age, and different from the lives of many of my peers.

    Maybe I will treat myself to some really good sushi if the place near my medical center is still there.

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16
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    It's funny how time changes so many things and changes nothing. I started this post last year, and now it is 1 year later and I am already getting nervous about my annual mammogram. In fact, I am going to try to go next week just to get this anxiety at bay. I am 10 years cancer free from uni-mastectomy and 10 years of tamoxifen. Ive even had my ovaries removed, yet the mammogram is the most anxious thing I do all year. I still dont have coping mechanisms, other than a tall vodka and club, haha, but I wish this feeling on no-one.

    My sister in law goes with me each year, she has predominantly fatty breasts and never had an issue, but I make her worry about her mammogram too!

    Crazy, any suggestions, thoughts or reflection would really help.


  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,945
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    Every year I have my mammogram, visit with breast surgeon, CT scan, and visit with urologist (had nephrectomy due to kidney cancer same year as breast cancer) all in the same week. This year they're on consecutive days. They're a pain in the butt, the mammogram is uncomfortable, the CT is annoying and feels weird, but I don't get particularly anxious. I try to think of them as routine maintenance. Like most people who have had cancer(s), there's always a rude, nasty little voice whispering "what if, what if" for every new or lasting ache or pain or twinge, but I see mammograms and CTs as reassuring; if there IS something there, it will be caught early enough to do something about it.

  • lola12
    lola12 Member Posts: 16
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    Well I have my mammogram tomorrow and they will be able to read it for me while I wait. It is funny, I am ok with all of the other routine maintenance- no worries about bloodwork, colonoscopy, Pap smear- it is just the dreaded mammogram. As I write this, it does not make sense, but boy I am stressed to almost immobilized.

    I am a teacher, and we talk about statistics all of the time. I was stage 1A, 10 years of tamoxifen, unilateral mastectomy, etc. I even worry about my sister, she had a mammogram tomorrow too. We go together. She has "predominantly fatty breasts" and never had a problem with mammograms. Again, the statistics are in our favor.

    It indeed is the what if!


  • byfaith
    byfaith Member Posts: 48
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    At least I know I’m not the only one so horribly afraid every year. I’m terrified, almost immobilized as someone else said, every year when I go for my diagnostic mammogram. Because it was my 10 year mark last year, my family comforts me by saying I’m afraid every year and it always turns out fine. That rationale doesn’t help me. My DH will also say I’m worried over nothing and “he knows” I’ll be fine. That doesn’t help.

    I have a very strong and active faith in the Lord, and although that helps with someone I can pray to, I don’t k ow His will for me. I feel my faith must be weak.

    Making it much worse the last two years is that I’ve developed a complicated, severe anxiety disorder under a doctor’s care. The slightest thing can send me into a full-blown anxiety or panic attack. One year only I was called back from the waiting lounge for more images, and I was so nervous and upset the tech tried to calm me down by calling in a young radiologist to tell me it was only to get different images of an area they were sure was a skin wrinkle. The same radiologist came back after to tell me it had been a wrinkle and when they looked at the new images everything was fine.

    I think the best chance I have to calm myself down is to pray and also to realize the mammogram could be totally fine and that is no surety I won’t develop some other disease or something that I’m not even worrying about. In other words, I was fine all year but NOW I’m going to assume the worst? Just because of the test? God bless you all. We are indeed sisters and what we feel is very common.

  • purplecat
    purplecat Member Posts: 226
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    Reading through this thread again to bolster my courage. My MRI is tomorrow, and I'll schedule my mammogram after that's done. I know it's more common to alternate MRI and mammogram every six months, but have decided I'd rather get it all over with at once. So tomorrow is the MRI, and after those results come back and I have a better sense of what, if anything, I might have to deal with, I'll schedule the mammogram. The mammogram order is currently for a diagnostic, but as the time gets closer I think about sitting in that waiting room while they read the results, and I'm not sure I can handle it. So if the MRI comes back OK I may ask the doctor to switch the order back to a regular mammogram, where I wouldn't have to make a "potentially 3 hours long" appointment at the cancer center and could just pop in to the local lab and walk back out and not have to think about it again unless they find something. Ugh. I'm truly not sure which is worse.

    I'm trying to repeat Alice's "routine maintenance" like a mantra.


  • ctmbsikia
    ctmbsikia Member Posts: 757
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    Hey PurpleCat, sending you some more courage for your MRI. I'm right there with you doing a Mammogram on Thursday morning. I go early and hope I'm the 1st one and the radiologist is on time and I get out of there in an hour or so. Best wishes to you. Here's hoping it is all routine maintenance!

  • purplecat
    purplecat Member Posts: 226
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    thinking of you this morning, ctmbsikia! Hope you get good news soon!

  • ctmbsikia
    ctmbsikia Member Posts: 757
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    Thank you! I passed, Birads 2. I don't have to go near that machine for 12 whole months! Finally.

    How did your MRI go?

  • purplecat
    purplecat Member Posts: 226
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    Hooray for Birads 2! Time to celebrate!


    The MRI went fine. I never mind the procedure itself, just the waiting for results. Over time I’ve figured out that they don’t call for normal results, and I was told they’d be reading it today, so every minute that goes by with no call has me breathing a little easier. I could just check my patient portal, but that’s way too anxiety provoking. If they still don’t call by tomorrow late afternoon I’ll feel brave enough to check the portal. Weird, I know, but somehow it makes me feel better to have a little control over when and how I get the results.



  • purplecat
    purplecat Member Posts: 226
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    Update: MRI was clean! Now all I have to do is schedule a mammogram, and then get through that whole process and waiting, but hopefully it will be less scary with a good MRI in my back pocket.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,154
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    Good news Purple Cat. FIngers crossesd for the mammo

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    Yay!!

  • minarchist
    minarchist Member Posts: 33
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    you're afraid of them because it's scary! lol how can we not be scared, its nervewracking to wait on results all the time