What a mammogram REALLY feels like

So yesterday I was chatting with my friend who’s in her early forties and she mentions to me that she’s never had a mammogram, and I’m like WTF?

HER: I know. But I’m scared they’re gonna tell me I have cancer?

ME: That makes sense. You should totally wait until the cancer gets really big and spreads throughout your body.

HER: I know, you’re right.

ME: Make an appointment.

HER: I will.

ME: Now.

HER: I will!!

ME: No, like seriously. Start dialing.

And she called her doctor and made the appointment. FYI, I may have saved her life, so she owes me a drink. Or forty.

But seriously, here’s the thing. I get it. If you haven’t had a mammogram before, it might seem scary. But it isn’t. I swear. But just in case you’re still worried, here’s a short explanation of EXACTLY what it’s like to get a mammogram.

1. They make you take off everything from the waist up and put on a pretty pink gown.

2. You wait a little while. Duhhh, it’s a doctor’s office. But mine always has an awesome stack of magazines and there aren’t any annoying rugrats running around, so basically it’s like a spa day while you wait.

3. They finally call your name and you feel like you’re kind of excited because YOU GOT PICKED!!! Yayyyy!!!!

4. They’ll have you come stand at a machine that looks like this.

Kind of scary looking, but really it’s not a big deal. I promise.

5. A nice woman will put your breast onto that black shelf, and yeah it’s a little awkward because a random stranger is handling your boob (just pretend like you’re in college again having an experimental one night stand!!). Try to remember that this woman handles hundreds of boobs every single week. She doesn’t give a shit what yours look like.

6. She’ll keep asking if you’re okay while she adjusts your boob in the machine to make sure she’s getting it all in there and to make sure there aren’t any folds. Awwwkward, but way less awkward than dying of cancer.

7. She’ll pull that clear plastic shelf down and squish your boob flat. And flatter. And FLATTER. Will it be fun? No. Will it hurt a lot? NOOOO. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s pretty fast and honestly, you’ve dealt with wayyyyyyyy worse. Like it’s easier than getting your blood drawn or going to the dentist.

8. When she’s done with Laverne, she’ll move on to Shirley. Or Everest and Kilimanjaro. Or tube sock and hot dog. Or whatever you call your boobs.

9. She’ll say “you’re all done!!” And you’ll say “that’s it?!!”

10. You’ll get your results in a few days. Or hours. And don’t freak out if you get called back. I’ve gotten called back many times and there are soooo many false alarms. Super common.

That’s it. Seriously, of all shit you deal with, getting a mammogram is one of the easiest. Like even our hubbies could deal with it. Yes, it’s that easy.

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There are 17 comments for this article
  1. Pamela Miller-DeKeyser at 9:57 am

    You forgot the best part! You can’t wear deodorant and you pit out from nerves while a stranger fondled your bombs lol

  2. Crystal Hamaker at 10:10 am

    I have MS and have endured MANY MRIs of my brain and spine, not to mention spinal taps, so on and so forth. I will gladly take a mammogram over an MRI any day. MRIs usually require IV Contrast and become extremely uncomfortable because you must lay perfectly still, cannot move at all for up to 90 minutes. Yep having a mammo is truly no big deal!

  3. Kristi Bidinger at 10:18 am

    I have fibrocystic disease so my boobs are full of cysts which means mine have been looked at, probed, tested and ultra sounded many times. My mom has had breast cancer twice and kicked it’s a*s. So have chosen to be proactive rather then reactive. If I do get cancer I want to kick it’s a*s immediately. Thank you for encouraging women to get there tata’s looked at.

  4. Jen at 10:36 am

    Can I please write about what happens if they do find cancer for you? I didn’t know anyone who had had breast cancer at 40 when I was diagnosed last November. It was not nearly as bad as I had feared.

  5. Kate at 11:34 am

    Be sure to wipe off all antiperspirant/deodorant! Better yet! Don’t wear any before your appointment. Otherwise, if you miss a bit, you get to redo the whole she-bang after you COMPLETELY wipe everything off. 🙄

  6. Valerie at 11:44 am

    Though I appreciate this article (and of course your humor), I would have preferred you didn’t say, “less awkward than dying of breast cancer”. I know, I know, it was meant to be funny and a play on words, but I guarantee anyone who DID die from breast cancer (or any cancer) would not have that experience described as “awkward”. That line is insensitive and takes away from your message. Just my thoughts.

    • Denise at 7:34 pm

      I completely agree. I appreciate the message, but the choice of words was insensitive. I am a cancer survivor and I have lost loved ones to cancer, and I found this to be offencive. I hope she considers changing that part of the article.

  7. AnnMarie at 12:48 pm

    I am literally reading this in my pink gown awaiting the results of my 2nd Mammo. Had to come back for a second set of X-rays. Fingers crossed

  8. Allyson Story at 8:22 pm

    Having the boobs smashed really flat always makes me crave pancakes. So after a mammogram I always treat myself to pancakes at the best “breakfast served all day” place I can find.

  9. Debra Morgan at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for the reminder! I turned 42 yesterday & have been meaning to get one. My life has been uber-crazy the past few months.

  10. Shana Wright at 3:31 pm

    I am a mammographer and I’d like to THANK YOU for summing this up so perfectly!!! This is probably the best “What’s a mammogram like” article I’ve ever read online. Most bloggers will try to make it sound so awful, painful, scary and annoying when it TOTALLY isn’t! So thank you, thank you, thank you from this group of mammographers in Winston-Salem, NC. You did a FANTASTIC job with this!!!!!

  11. Amy Telgen at 8:50 am

    Here’s some possible motivation for getting that mammogram: if you do get diagnosed with cancer, it is likely to be a very early diagnosis so it might not be necessary to go through chemotherapy and/or radiation. That was the case with me – I was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer. I did have to have surgery, but NO chemo and NO radiation! So get your mammograms regularly so they can catch it EARLY!!!

  12. Wood Kristin at 1:39 am

    I did my first ‘big squish’ baseline mammogram a couple of yesrs ago. Terrified of the process as the girls are full size. Dragged my feet on making an appointment. It was no big deal. Most monthly female maladies I experienced were far more painful. The technician tries really hard to make it as quick as possible. Mine even warmed her hands.

  13. Bonnie Pelrin at 6:41 am

    You probably saved more than just the life of your friend. And then when you add in all the peeps reading that will forward to their friends, you’ve created a Boobie Brigade of Life saving peeps! Thanks!

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