Nikki here. Today was my big day of appointments at the hospital for some breast cancer screening. Because of my positive BRCA1 status and my age (33), I qualified for Ontario’s Breast Screening Program as a woman who is determined to be “high risk”. This means that I am able to have yearly screening with MRI as well as mammography (Cancer Care Ontario, 2016). Even though I wish to have a mastectomy next spring/summer, I enrolled in the screening program in order to see if there are any immediate concerns.
First was the MRI. I’ve never had one before, and I was a bit nervous that I would feel claustrophobic. First, they gave me an IV. They told me that about halfway through, they would need to give me an injection that would enlarge my breast tissue for screening. (Side note: I really hate needles.) They had me lie down on my stomach, with a hole for my face, and two holes for my breasts. The MRI took about 25 minutes. Just as they said, at about the halfway mark, I could feel a [very] cold liquid shoot through my veins. It gave me a chill that lasted the remainder of the procedure. The MRI machine was loud – so loud that I couldn’t even hear the music through the headphones they give you. (It actually startled me several times!) It became uncomfortable – especially since I have a difficult time remaining in the same position for very long. The worst part of it all was trying to stay completely still. I didn’t even feel claustrophobic 🙂
Next, I had to venture upstairs to the Breast Health Centre for my mammogram. I found myself lost in the basement of the hospital. Great. Luckily, I ran into my next door neighbour (a hospital employee), who was happy to take me where I needed to go. He asked me what was going on… why was I here? I think he had a mixture of reactions which included both concern and awkward feelings as I began to discuss my breast health concerns. He obviously does not know me well. I refuse to be awkward/ashamed/embarrassed to discuss the importance of women’s health! Let’s talk about it!
So… back to the mammogram. Again, I’ve never had one before. And again, I was a bit nervous about the pain I was about to endure from my breasts being squished into pancakes. The woman who did the mammogram was great – very helpful, informative, and comforting. I was happy to have her. I didn’t find the mammogram to be as painful as I expected – and best of all, it was very quick! My family doctor should have the results in 5 business days.
For more information about Ontario’s Breast Screening Program, specifically for women who are at high risk for breast cancer, see Cancer Care Ontario’s website here: https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/breastscreening/OBSP/highrisk/
For more information about Windsor Regional Hospital’s Breast Health Centre, see their website here: http://www.wrh.on.ca/Site_Published/wrh_internet/windsorregionalnonav.aspx?Body.QueryId.Id=35662&LeftNav.QueryId.Categories
We still plan on making a small post about BRCA1 and our family’s experience. We will hopefully find some time to do this soon!