I got tested for Breast Cancer, here’s how it went

I got my boobs out during work hours this week. Wait! Before you call HR, it was all in the name of breast cancer research.

Breast cancer is not just a health issue; it’s a shared human experience, which can impact any individual despite their age. In fact, of the 1 in 8 Women who will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lifetime, 5% of these will be young women under the age of 40.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Zala Hair Extensions is donating $1 from every sale to BCRG.org.(October 2023).

Working on this campaign highlighted some of my own concerns, which I admittedly have been putting off. So I thought it was a good opportunity to lean right into the campaign and get tested myself and share my experience with you.

Here’s how it all went down

7am - I got to sleep in a little today, I’d laid awake thinking about how today might pan out, so the extra hour was a real treat.

7.30am - I went for a quick hot-girl walk to make sure I was in a good headspace before my little adventure into the city.

8.45am - It was time to head into Sydney’s CBD. It was an awesome morning, so I enjoyed the extra walk.

9.30am - Arrive at the clinic. Full disclosure, by the time I entered through the big glass doors I was full of nerves. I was so distracted I forgot to film or take any pics.

It was very pink, floral and had a mature-age vibe inside… like a medical version of the golden girls set. At 40, I was the youngest there besides the girls behind the front desk and some nurses walking around.

9.40am - A smiling face called me from the waiting area to a triage desk and asked to fill out a tonne of forms including one very important one, my consent to participate in a new research trial that is developing a blood test to detect cancer (rather than the mammogram and ultrasound I am about to experience).

In this clinic, you generally receive the results and have any biopsies the same day. The triage nurse asked if I was ok to receive my results today and asked if I had anyone with me for that part of the day. The thought of being at the wrong end of some unexpected and scary news didn’t settle my nerves but I politely nodded.

9:50am - You keep your seat and paper work with you all day as you work your way through all the doctors and tests, so I was sent off to set up camp at seat 27.

10:15am - A very kind grey haired female doctor invited me into the consultation room. I have to admit, by the time I went into the room, I’d been up in my own head so much I was feeling very emotional.

The initial consultation

The doctor had a really calming and comforting voice - I guess this is a requirement for the job. She talked me very thoroughly through what they’re looking for when I am having my tests done, and asked about my symptoms and family history.

She also spoke to me about the changes I can be expecting to see for my age. At 40, this is relatively young to be getting my first mammogram, but increasingly young people are presenting with breast cancer. With 5% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the US, it’s important to make sure we’re getting checked when we notice a change.

It was time to strip for the first check. I was surprisingly comfortable sitting there topless but my insecurities did creep in and I was looking at her expression to catch any odd reactions… I am sure other people would do this, right?

The doctor comforted me that there was nothing standing out as a concern, but suggested a mammogram and ultrasound regardless since I have seen recent changes.

11am - Back to seat 27 to sit anxiously for the mammogram. This is the test my mother warned me of, describing it as ‘pancaking’ your boobs. Not something I was looking forward to.

11.30am - It’s time!!! I am up for the dreaded mammogram, test 1 of 3 for the day.

What is it like getting a mammogram?

It’s definitely an experience, standing topless in front of a large machine while each breast is squished into place between two plastic plates by the nurse in one direction, then the opposite while the x-ray-looking scanner rotates by you.

Despite the super friendly nurse trying to distract me with stories and questions, it’s not comfortable, it’s actually quite uncomfortable but it’s not as bad as I had been warned. Each scan only takes around 10 seconds so it’s quite quick.

After each image, the nurse showed me the scan result, pointing out all of the details… nothing sinister showing, so I started feeling a little more relaxed!

11.45am - Back to seat 27 to wait for the ultrasound, test 2 of 3. Hot Tip: Make sure you eat… I’ve only had half a coffee so far today, so I’m starving! Thank goodness for Zala’s TikTok and instagram keeping me entertained.

12.10pm - Someone get this girl some sushi! I am considering annihilating the little packets of cookies at the tea and coffee station

12.15pm - Cookies crisis averted, I get called up for the ultrasound.

Getting an ultrasound

This was like having a calming spa compared to the mammogram. It’s a standard ultrasound like you’d expect, a little messy but fairly comfortable and the jelly is pre-warmed and they cover you in blankets.

This takes a little longer but is not at all uncomfortable. Well, unless you’re like me and are trying to catch a glimpse of the screen.

1pm - I am back in the waiting room. The cookies are safe… for now.

1.15pm - My third and final test! Giving

Giving blood for breasts

I opted to take part in a research study to develop methods to detect breast cancer through a blood test… imagine how much easier this process would be if that becomes effective! We’d be able to opt in to get these at younger ages at our GP without needing all the tests I’ve been through today.

All it took was a few minutes and a few vials of blood and I’ve contributed to the research. Good deed done for the day.

1.30pm - Final assessment time! The doctor talked me through the results from all of the tests I had today. For me, they revealed that the cause of all my worries was nothing sinister. Thankfully nothing that can’t be easily treated and it was definitely worth the peace of mind.

You know your body the best, so definitely recommend chatting to your GP if you do notice any changes.

You can help support breast cancer research with Zala!

For many, our hair can be a significant part of our identity. We acknowledge and understand that for some, losing hair during treatment can be an emotional experience and may impact their confidence.

So, for the month of October, Zala will donate $1 for every sale made to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF.org) to help fund ongoing research.

We greatly appreciate your support in creating more awareness, and we can’t wait to see your new hair!

With love, Zala Hair Extensions
October 19, 2023
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