Skip to content

Release the Fear; Embrace the Challenge!

During the month of October, breast cancer awareness is commemorated on the 24th October while Mammography day is on the third Friday in October. In keeping with this theme, I want to enlighten you about these events and also to encourage you to take care of your physical body.

God not only cares for your spiritual needs, but He also wants you to be fit and well by maintaining healthy habits.

The Bible stated that the Lord cares very much that we are in good health and are prosperous even as our souls prospers (3 John 1:2).  So as we mature spiritually in strength and vigor, so should our mind and body.

The national breast cancer awareness month (NBCAM) was founded in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries.

Their objective was to promote mammography as the primary screening tool to detect breast cancer. As the years progressed, the NBCAM has incorporated many other activities to bring awareness and funds to fight breast cancer.

Some of these activities are the race for the cure, various fund raising walks and other activities organized by other associations to collect money for breast cancer research. During these events, the color pink is worn and displayed.

Race for the cure (

Race for the Cure (

What is Mammography?

Mammography is the x-ray examination of the breasts used to detect and diagnose pathology within the breast tissues. So far it is the most efficient method for detecting tiny breast lumps that could be cancerous.

The American Cancer Society, therefore, recommended that all women over the ages of 40 perform a yearly mammography examination. They should also include an annual breast examination by a medical professional. It is also advisable that women perform a monthly examination of their breasts to detect any unusual lumps in the breast or deformity of the breast.

Self examination of the breasts by marin/

Self-examination of the breasts by marin/

Yearly screening by a Mammogram is not recommended for ladies below forty because of several reasons

  • The texture of their breasts. The breasts are radiographically dense which means that they appear white on the film and it is possible that tiny abnormalities will be obscured. The breasts of ladies who are forty and over are usually fatty and this appears grey on the film which facilitates the visualization of tiny abnormalities which may appear white on the film.
  • Less radiation to younger patients because they are of childbearing age. Ultrasound is the modality of choice which will detect any cystic or solid masses in the breast.
  • If patients have a strong disposition or family history of breast cancer, they are advised to do mammograms along with a breast ultrasound.

A routine mammogram involves two views. A cranial-caudal or anterior-posterior (AP) view and a Medio-lateral oblique view. Sometimes if abnormalities are detected on these views, the Radiologist will ask for additional views such as ultrasound, spot compression views or biopsy.

Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute

Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute

Releasing the fear and embracing the challenge

As you may be aware from my ‘about page’ I am a qualified Medical Imaging Technologist, and I have worked in this capacity for twenty-eight years. My job requirements are to perform diagnostic medical ultrasound and diagnostic x-ray examination such as radiography, fluoroscopy, mammography, and CT examinations.

For the past 14 years, I have been doing mostly ultrasound examinations of the entire body which includes the breast. Over the years, I have found that most women are afraid of breast cancer.

Consequently, many of them refused to do their yearly mammogram in-spite of the extensive education on breast awareness that are on the media especially during the month of October.

Some women fear the mammography examination itself. Their most frequent complaints are the discomfort caused by the compression of the breast. Others just basically fear the unknown but when the time is taken to reassure and educate them about the procedure they are more receptive.

After the examination is performed and if a patient is called back to the department for further investigations the fear is intensified. They usually arrived at the unit in tears because they have conjured up the worst possible scenario in their mind; and cancer is the main culprit.

This reasoning is far from the truth. A patient maybe called back for simple reasons such as verifying cystic verses a solid mass via ultrasound; to take a more focus view of a lesion or to do a biopsy of a lesion.

Breast cysts. images courtesy of

Breast cysts. Images courtesy of

According to the American cancer society, 80% of biopsies turned out to be benign or non-cancerous. Therefore, a patient does not need to panic if she is called back. Hence, it is vital that the Mammograhers spent some additional time with these patients to comfort and reassure them.

Another important factor that patients fear is the compression of the breast. This factor may seem a bit trivial, but I have met several ladies who refused to do a mammogram because they heard that it is extremely painful or after their first painful experience they decided not to return.

Let me try to dispel this fear by assuring you that a mammogram is not painful. Yes, it is uncomfortable because the breast is placed between two plates called a compression paddle and is compressed during the examination.

The breasts are spongy and flexible so they need to be compressed in order to even out and flatten the tissue so that false lumps do not appear on the radiographs.

The compression is uncomfortable but will only become painful if you have tender, painful breasts or if the compression paddle is adjusted too tightly. The breasts are usually tender at the onset or during the menstruation cycle, so it is advisable not to do a mammogram at that time.

When I liaised with my patient during the examination to find their tolerance level during compression, they usually experience less or no pain. The compression is usually very short and only last a few seconds that the breast is exposed to the radiation.

Patient having a mammogram. Image courtesy of

The patient is having a mammogram. Image courtesy of

My final advice to all women forty and over is to honor your appointment and do your mammograms and your physical check up. Before you visit the mammography department read as much as possible about the procedures on the internet or at the library.  Knowledge is a powerful weapon to dispel fear.

Never allow someone else’s bad experience to discourage you because your experience can be entirely different. The husbands of married women play a vital role in dispelling fear when they too educate themselves and encourage their wives in love and patience. Always remember perfect love drives out the spirit of fear.

After reading this post, I hope my jubilees, diamonds, and golden ages would be motivated to visit their doctor and arrange a mammogram if they have not already done so.

Below are additional references to build your knowledge and broaden your awareness.


Breast Cancer Health Center; Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation; MammoSite; Imagings; Care Cycle Solutions; Wikipedia (NBCAM); NBCAM – 2014


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: