Over the past 20+ years, I figure I’ve probably worked on at least a dozen different advertising campaigns or projects promoting breast cancer awareness and the importance of mammograms. I can recite all of the statistics about early detection and survival rates, the factors that put women at higher risk, and the prevalence of breast cancer at every age. From a marketing standpoint, promoting annual mammograms is straightforward and powerful. Mammograms are quick, safe, and painless, but more importantly they save lives.
And yet several years past my 40th birthday, I still hadn’t had a mammogram. Every year my doctor would remind me that I needed to schedule one, and every year I’d walk out of her office with a clean bill of health and absolutely no intention of getting that mammogram. I wasn’t afraid that it would be uncomfortable or embarrassing. I wasn’t worried about what the results might show. I had good insurance that would cover the cost. And, as a single, childless woman with my own business, I had more flexibility with my schedule than most women I know, so I couldn’t even use the excuse that I didn’t have time.
So what was it that held me back? It just simply wasn’t a priority for me. I don’t have a family history, I’m healthy, and I’m not high risk. I was confident that I was fine, so actually scheduling a mammogram seemed like more of a nuisance than anything else. So I continued to put it off, year after year after year. Even learning that friends my age (or younger) had breast cancer wasn’t enough to make me pick up the phone and make an appointment.
My friends and associates were confused. They couldn’t understand why I would make such an effort to eat right, exercise, get a flu shot every year, and even brag about my cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, yet neglect this very important screening. Common sense and a thorough understanding of the realities of breast cancer should have been enough to get me to that mammogram, but it was actually the non-stop nagging of my friends that finally wore me down.
The day I realized I owed this to them – but more importantly to myself – I finally made the call. Two minutes later I had a mammogram appointment on my calendar. Two weeks later, I checked in for my screening at 3:50 pm, and was finished and walking out the door by 4:15 pm. It was quick, easy, and painless – and proved that everything I’d been promoting to women for years was 100% right. My instincts were right – my results came back perfectly normal. I was relieved, but also pretty proud of myself for finally taking this simple step for my health. And in another eight months, I’ll do it all again. My next mammogram is already on the calendar!