CHESAPEAKE, Va (WAVY) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and 10 On Your Side is working to help save lives with information on early detection and treatment.
Doctors recommend mammograms for every woman over 40, but many put them off for fear of the unknown or that it might hurt.
10 On Your Side found a gracious volunteer, Lakeila Whitaker, who let us come along on her mammogram at Chesapeake Regional’s Jennings Health Center to help take the mystery out of the mammogram and let women see what it is.
She told WAVY what was on her mind before the appointment. “The fear of hearing about how the pressure of it and just how it kind of like hurts and it being a little uncomfortable and also the not — just waiting to be able to get the results.”
The appointment begins with a mammography technician greeting her at the waiting room door and escorting her to a dressing room where she is instructed to undress from the waist up and put on a cover that opens in the front.
Lead mammography tech, Darin Lowe also asks Whitaker if she is wearing any deodorant or lotion.
“Sometimes it can show up on the film and it makes the breast harder to position if we can’t hold it [because lotion can make it slippery],” Lowe explained to WAVY.
Lowe then takes Whitaker back to the mammography room and asks a few quick questions about Whitaker’s medical history.
Whitaker then stands in front of the large machine and Lowe helps position Whitaker’s breast between two flat plates. Whitaker is asked to hold her breath briefly while the breast is squeezed between the plates so the x-ray beam can see through the layers of tissue and get an image.
Everyone gets four pictures. The first two are from top to bottom the second two are from side to side.
“It hurt for just a few seconds,” said Whitaker. “But after that, it was over just like that and I was like ‘oh that’s it?'”
The hardest part is the positioning. It can be tricky to get all of the underarm tissue in the machine. That, again is why you shouldn’t wear slippery lotion.
The whole thing only takes about ten minutes. Whitaker encourages women to let go of the free and just do it.
“If you just take that first step, you’re going to be alright, you’re in great hands. Know that this could possibly save your life,” she said.
Typically you will have results in two to three days. If something abnormal is detected or they need a second look, you will usually get another appointment in about a week.
If time is your excuse to not get a mammogram, Chesapeake Regional has solutions for that as well. They offer evening and weekend appointments and a mobile mammography unit that can come to your workplace, church or other event. For more information click here.