If you have someone in your family with a history of cancer you probably fall into one of two camps, you are either super proactive when it comes to all things medical…….or you prefer to keep your head in the sand like me. I honestly didn’t want to know and I was content to not know.
My mom detected breast cancer late at age 51 (she hated going to the doctor) and she passed away at age 57 (after a period of remission when more cancer came back and spread to other parts of her body)……you would think that would make me proactive……but instead it’s made me afraid of the unknown because I’ve had a front row seat to how devastating cancer can be.
You would logically think that this should make me even more proactive, but watching her suffer had an opposite effect on me. As I approached 40, friends and family became more and more vocal about their concerns of my thought process out of their love for me… and through the support of friends, I finally faced my fear of my first mammogram at a Power Lunch.
I really wanted to just put my head in the sand and not think about it….but with my family history of cancer, that’s not wise, especially because I don’t want my kids to experience what it’s like to lose their mom. I would never wish that pain on anyone. When I learned more about the Power Lunch, it instantly appealed to my desire of sharing adventures with others.
Don’t get me wrong, medical adventures are not typically on my bucket list but there is something to be said about sharing first time experiences with others that makes it easier and strengthens your relationships with each other.
So what is a “Power Lunch”?
When you schedule a Power Lunch with St. Elizabeth, you and 4 to 6 friends get the following:
- A healthy and delicious meal at no charge. ( A FREE lunch that someone else cooked is a beautiful thing)
- An educational talk. During lunch, you’ll hear from one of St. Elizabeth’s medical experts on the latest developments in women’s health.
- A Digital screening mammogram (most insurance plans cover an annual mammogram).If you’re 40 or older, your screening mammogram should be paid for under most insurance plans. If your insurance does not cover mammograms, you can contact your preferred healthcare provider to determine if you qualify for financial assistance. *Mammograms are recommended for annual screening at age 40 or earlier if a woman is high-risk. Women 40 and older with an average risk should have mammograms every one or two years.
- A Complimentary chair massage. (A FREE massage + a FREE meal is an even more beautiful thing!)
- A swag bag to take home
The Power Lunch lasts from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. which makes it a doable option for friends who are only available during an extended work lunch break.
I invited a group of friends new and old to join me for the Power Lunch. Some had personal ties to breast cancer and some were also experiencing their first mammogram as well. The Power Lunch motivated us to get our mammograms and it was also an encouraging sign of support from those who attended it with me.
An Extra Special Lemon Bar & Inspirational Talk
I don’t think it’s by accident that our… not so random desert, was a lemon bar and that our luncheon speaker, Cathy, who called herself “Chic”…..and called everyone else in the room “chic”, also had a mastectomy….just like my mom.
My mom LOVED lemon flavour desserts and I double checked with a friend who had previously attended several power luncheons over the years and she said that she had never had a lemon dessert during her lunch. It felt like another sign that mom was cheering me on from above.
Chic did a great job of putting everyone at our table at ease as she shared her story with the perfect blend of humour and inspiration…..she even told us a few hilarious stories that had us almost laughing in tears.
She put a face not only on breast cancer but on a breast cancer survivor that is not just surviving but THRIVING and using her life and her story to educate and enlighten women in an entertaining way.
She won’t let you leave the room without a BIG HUG and a large dose of HOPE. I’m naturally not even a big hugger but I even wanted to hug Chic because she made all of us feel so at ease like we had been friends with her for years.
You Don’t Have Awkward Waiting Room Time Alone
Is it just me or does the waiting room time typically feel like an eternity? I think it’s because your imagination has more time to dream up scary scenarios that will most likely never happen. What I liked about the Power Lunch was that I was distracted and didn’t have to spend time waiting by myself for the unknown.
I didn’t have time to get super nervous because I was hanging out with friends at lunch and then I was taken back to get my mammogram. Some friends got their chair massage prior to the exam and I got mine afterwards which I liked because I was even more relaxed and it felt like a special reward.
When you are called back for a mammogram, you are first taken to a room that has a locker to keep your personal items, a smock, and wipes to remove your deodorant.
(FYI -Mammograms are sensitive to deodorants so avoiding deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, lotions, creams or perfumes under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your mammogram is preferred.)
Don’t worry, there is deodorant available to put on after your exam.
You only need to undress from the waist up. I would not suggest wearing a dress unless you pack some extra shorts for your exam. It’s also best to avoid scheduling your mammogram right around your menstrual period if possible because your breast will be more tender.
If you have had previous mammogram images, bring them with you so that the radiologist can compare them to your new images.
So how is a Mammogram done?
For a screening mammogram, you typically stand in front of a special x-ray machine, the mammography machine, and your breasts are compressed between two rm surfaces to spread out the breast tissue while x-ray images are taken.
Don’t Forget to BREATHE!
The mammogram scans go by pretty quickly. I’m sure that the mammogram attendant said something about breathing but I REALLY want to emphasize for all of you mammogram newbies to TRY to relax as best as you can while having your boobs compressed and don’t forget to FOCUS on BREATHING during the process.
It’s uncomfortable but it’s totally doable and that’s coming from a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to pain. It sounds so simple but the only time I felt a little queasy was when I quit focusing on breathing, which made everything feel like it was taking longer than the reality of a few minutes total. Most mammogram screenings typically take about 10 minutes.
Safety in Numbers
Thanks to the power of supportive friends, I faced my fear of the unknown. I made a proactive step in self-care that has intimidated me for years along with a few of my friends who also shared the experience of their first mammogram.
Several of us had never had a mammogram before and would not have done it on our own. Because of the support of friends through the St. Elizabeth “Power Lunch,” I finally rocked my first mammogram smock.
The only pink slip I’ll ever be happy to receive! It was definitely a relief to receive a letter saying that there was no detection of cancer given my family history. At St. Elizabeth, screening mammogram results can take as little as two business days and you will receive written results in about seven business days.
If I Can Do It, So Can You!
Seriously, I’m a wimp when it comes to all things medical so if I can do it, so can you!
If you have been putting it off too I highly encourage you to talk to some friends about scheduling a Power Lunch…I don’t think that I would have been brave enough to go without their support and accountability.
Book Your Own Power Lunch
Power Lunches are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at St. Elizabeth Covington and St. Elizabeth Ft. Thomas locations. They are VERY popular for obvious reasons so you will want to make sure that you schedule your Power Lunch several months in advance.
Call (859) 655-8777
Can I schedule a “Power Lunch” for all of my medical appointments?
Honestly, this is just wishful thinking because I had such a great experience, but there is nothing stopping you or me from creating a Power lunch of our own with a group of friends to support each other to schedule those “other” important medical appointments that we’ve been putting off. Schedule that appointment and treat yourself to one of your favorite restaurants and make an adventure out of it!
You can find more information from the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Website.
Disclosure: Thanks again to St. Elizabeth Healthcare for sponsoring this post and motivating me to get my first mammogram.