Ten things I learned when I had my first mammogram

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Allyson Jacobson, M.D.
Medical Director, NCH Breast Program

Yes, I’m board-certified in general surgery and fellowship-trained in breast surgery, but until October 2015, I was a mammography virgin, so I couldn’t really understand what women go through. Here’s what I’ve learned after my first mammogram:

1. We let life get in the way of keeping up with our own health.

I had pushed off having a mammogram because of too many competing priorities. Finally, one week before my 41st birthday, I knew time was running out. After all, how could I make recommendations to my patients and not follow them myself?

2. Until you have your first mammogram, you don’t know what to expect.

Intellectually, I knew that women experience different levels of discomfort when they have a mammogram. Now I can describe the sensation better, and even provide some tips, like don’t start holding your breath until the technician tells you to!

3. Little things mean a lot.

Even though I am a surgeon at Northwest Community Healthcare, the technicians at the Breast Center knew it was ‘my first time’ so they made sure to explain each step of the process. It was very comforting.

4. Being nervous is natural.

I tried not to worry, but I was still nervous.

5. Being nervous when you’re told you have dense breasts is even more natural.

Based on the screening mammogram, I was told I have dense breasts. My first thought was, ‘Are you kidding me?’

6. If you have dense breasts, you also have options.

My second thought was, OK, I’m also going to have my first automated breast ultrasound screening (ABUS). The ABUS is a great way for radiologists to see through dense breast tissue.

7. Waiting for test results is no picnic.

Time takes on a whole new meaning when you are the patient. Distractions help.

8. Normal never sounded so good.

My results were normal, which means I can cross this off my to-do list until next fall.

9. I get it now.

I’ve walked the walk, and I understand the love-hate relationship women have with mammograms.

10. Early detection saves lives.

I knew this fact before I had my first mammogram, but it’s worth repeating. Early is best when it comes to diagnosing and treating breast cancer.

I know excuses are easy. However, if you’re due for your mammogram, don’t put it off. Schedule your mammogram today by calling 847-618-3700.

  • Allyson Jacobson


Print this article


Get the latest from NCH...

Sign up for our healthy tips e-newsletter

Care Options

Where and when: Five levels of care to match your needs

Find a Doctor

1,000+ expert primary care and specialty physicians

Walk-In Hours

Convenient NCH Medical Group hours for ages 14+

Virtual Health

24/7 care for all ages by phone, video chat or FaceTime