Firstly, let me start by saying that I applaud the fact that women are offered a free breast screening / mammogram service between the age of 50 to 70.
I have just attended my first mammogram and whilst very appreciative to be offered this potential life saving screening, I was surprised at the impact it has had on me.
As this was my first time, my expectation was that the nurse performing the screening would offer reassurance of what to expect during and after the screening. However, the nurse's approach seemed to be indifference and unable to offer that reassuring smile I had hoped for. The nurse's parting comment to me, as I left, was that I may get a letter advising that I would need further investigations. I was left feeling slightly stunned and worried as I hurried out.
Having lost my mother to breast cancer in the 1970s and also having a friend just about to undergo surgery for breast cancer, the nurse's comments left me feeling extremely anxious, as I wondered if she had spotted something on the x-rays.
I needed reassurance and so I went on line and visited breast cancer forums where I discovered that my anxiety was common place and that thousands of women experience anxiety and stress throughout the screening process.
Like these thousands of other women, I have spent 2 weeks, in a state of anxiety and stress, awaiting my results. It has made me realise that whilst I am very appreciative to be given breast screening, it has come with an emotional cost.
Anxiety is recognised as a symptom of hormonal changes in women of my age, so is something we already are combating and therefore, the anxiety of having to wait weeks to find out if cancer has been identified through screening, further adds to the problem.
I really believe that the emotional well-being of women needs to be given greater attention, as part of the overall breast screening offering, as it is unacceptable that thousands of women are feeling so anxious, for so long, during the process.