Over the lost year that was Covid, I became one of the many people that fell behind on the various appointments and doctor’s visits that we’re expected to schedule each year. I admit I wasn’t terribly sad to miss out on a mammogram or the associated poking and prodding. However, I realized how important it is to get the various procedures taken care of, and thus, I committed myself to get back on track.
I’m quite fortunate because I really like my doctor. She’s always kind and patient with me and has great suggestions and ways to make my visits as pleasant as possible. Not that I would ever use the word ‘pleasant’ in relation to a mammogram, but it’s a necessary evil, so I try to be optimistic and find ways to make it as bearable as possible.
So, what exactly is a mammogram? Simply put, it’s an X-ray image that is taken to detect the presence of a tumor or a lump in the breast. According to the American Cancer Society, women between the age of 40-44 with an average risk for breast cancer have the option to start screening for breast cancer every year. However, once you turn 45, it’s recommended you have a mammogram every year until you turn 54. Beyond that, it’s good to either stick with the annual schedule or get one every other year. Women at a higher risk for breast cancer are recommended to get a mammogram every year starting at age 30. Still, regardless of risk level, it’s always recommended that you follow your doctor’s guidance.
The procedure itself involves a technologist compressing your breast with a paddle on the equipment to get images of the breast tissue. This is typically a very uncomfortable process that involves boob squishing and a cold hard slab of metal.
Mammograms are pretty simple procedures in the grand scheme of things. These days, though, we have to be wary of any sort of unsanitary situations we could be placed in. I personally am not a fan of the idea that my breast is sitting on a surface that might not be as clean as I would like, regardless of the sanitation procedures that the staff has followed after the previous patients.
Also, the idea that I’ve gone through a mammogram only to find out they didn’t get the best image possible, and I have to go in again makes me dread the entire process. The most common reason this occurs is due to an issue with breast positioning when the image was taken. According to a 2015 study from the American College of Radiology, of all the clinical images that were deficient on the first attempt at accreditation, 92% were because of an issue with positioning. That means because the breast wasn’t on the table correctly, they didn’t get a good scan, and the procedure would have to be repeated. Ouch and no thank you!
Before I went in for my annual mammogram, I discussed my concerns regarding hygiene and the potential for bad imaging with my mammographer. It turns out she was one step ahead of me and already had a very simple solution on hand that resolved both issues. She mentioned that they were using Bella Blankets from Beekley Medical® with mammograms, and I shouldn’t worry. I hadn’t heard of Bella Blankets and was anxious to see what she was talking about.
To be frankly honest, when I showed up to my appointment, I was surprised at how simple the solution actually was. Bella Blankets are protective coverlets that the technologist attaches to the mammography equipment, and it’s a one-time use product that was used solely for my exam. Besides making the equipment more sanitary, it also made my mammogram far more accurate. That’s because Bella Blankets have a unique material that helps hold the breast in place, especially if you are perspiring (and I was!). And even with the sticky perspiration, when my mammogram was over, my breast easily lifted off, preventing a possible skin tear.
They’re also helpful because they can help the technologist get more breast tissue on the image for the radiologist to review, which leads to more accurate scans and readings. That’s because cancers that occur at the chest wall may not be visualized if breast tissue is missing from the image, and when it comes to a mammogram, every millimeter counts™ when looking for clusters of micro-calcifications.
Plus, Bella Blankets prevented me from having to lay my breast on the cold metallic surface, and that elevated the overall comfort level of the entire procedure.
In the US alone, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during the course of their lifetime. That’s roughly 13% of the population! That’s why early detection is so important, and part of that detection system is getting a mammogram. If you’ve been holding off because you dread the procedure or are concerned about the level of hygiene you’ll experience, let Bella Blanket be the answer to your worries.
So this October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, make sure you’re taking care of yourself, your health, and your overall wellbeing.
Do you have an experience with Bella Blankets on your mammogram? Share your experience with others.
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