To Have a Mammogram or not to Have a Mammogram, That is the Question.

In January of 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no lumps and no pain. Never in my 42 years of life had I had a mammogram. I read articles about how mammograms before age 50 are useless, senseless and sometimes over expose women to unnecessary radiation which can actually cause breast cancer, so I chose not to have one annually and I wasn’t going to until after I turned 50. I really had nothing to worry about. There was no history of breast cancer in my family, no obvious symptom, so? I was, however itchy. I scratched and scratched. No skin abnormalities, just dryness and I could not get the itching to stop, no matter what product I put on, so my immediate reaction was to go to a dermatologist. However, my boyfriend convinced me to get a mammogram. My mammogram led to diagnostic testing, which led to a lumpectomy, which then lead to a decision, to have a mastectomy or breast conservation. When I was faced with this horrible disease, all I wanted is it to be gone. I wanted my journey with it to be short lived. I read that many women who elected breast conservation would eventually have to have a mastectomy. After numerous sleepless nights, breast conservation didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I will not pretend that having a bilateral mastectomy was an easy decision to make and the indescribable pain that I experienced during recovery was not something I want to ever do again. But, I will say, my boyfriend pushing me to get tested saved my life, making this decision saved my life, and my surgeons saved my life. My advice to women aged 40+, do not underestimate the power of a mammogram, it could save your life.
Kelly Sanchez
Rio Rancho, NM