Truth to be told, I don't have intentions of taking mammogram and breast ultrasound anytime this year. I'm more concerned with my cholesterol issues. There were two reasons why I decided to undergo these tests. My recent meet up with the Cath Kidston Sisterhood (Hello Leah and Mother E), where I learned some health related concerns I should monitor. The Gender and Development activities I'm spearheading at the workplace also forced me to avail of these tests. I can't be a good leader unless I'm an advocate of the process. We have partnered with Gift2Life Inc., a foundation headed by a breast surgeon, Dr. Cristina Santos for this project. If you wish to create breast cancer awareness activities in your respective workplaces, I highly recommend Gift2life Inc. 

Aside from email blast, I decided to print "ticket inspired" flyers and pink scrunchies for my female colleagues. Hopefully, this encouraged them to avail of the service. 

Initially, I thought anyone can walk in and avail of mammogram and breast ultrasound. Turns out, you need an initial consultation and recommendation from a doctor. This would entail costs, which I believe is discouraging for some. There will be another set of cost once results are released for interpretation. If monetary resources are your concern, you might want to coordinate with Gift2Life Inc. They can provide free recommendation and interpretation of results (provided you avail from their accredited hospitals). 

Prior to the test, Dr. Tina assessed my risk factors for breast cancer. I was diagnosed having moderate risk for breast cancer for the following reasons

1. I had my first menstruation before 12 years old. 
2. I'm in my 30s and remains childless. 
3. My cholesterol issues and intake of fatty foods are also drivers. I was surprised that even fat and cholesterol issues can increase the risk of having breast cancer.
4. Stress - My stress level at work can also serve as a trigger. 

Dr. Tina recommended that Dr. Jesus Delgado Memorial Hospital (JDMH) to have my mammogram and breast ultrasound. I also took advantage of their ongoing promotional offer since it's breast cancer awareness month. I paid Php 4,000 for both tests. 

A few things I learned from Dr. Tina
1. Yes there are online breast cancer risk assessment. You just have to answer a questions then the form automatically provides a rating of your risk assessment. It still different when you directly consult with a doctor. Further explanations are provided with your risk factors.
2. There is an ideal time to conduct mammogram. I was asked when was the first day of my last period. It happened a week before I made the consultation, which turns out to be the ideal time. 

I went early Saturday, finished the test in an hour and returned after lunch for the results. I was warned that mammograms are painful. Indeed, it was. The machine will squeeze your breasts front and sideways. This procedure will be done for each breast. In effect, you have to endure the painful process four times. Even though the entire process was painful, Ms. Kim of JDMH was very courteous and careful. 

After the mammogram, I was directed to the ultrasound section of JDMH. I waited for a while and was surprised that the procedure will be done by a doctor. Turns out, he read my mammogram results prior to the ultrasound. This was something new to me. They need to correlate the results of my mammogram and breast ultrasound. Should there be suspicious findings from the mammogram, the breast ultrasound will provide the confirmatory results. Dr. Dominic Figueras discussed the good results of my mammogram. I was clear of any suspicious findings. Same with the breast ultrasound, he didn't find anything alarming. I was relieved. 

I already knew my results. I was just asked to return after lunch for the printed copy of the results. This is something I hope JDMH can improve. I hope they have an option to have digital results sent thru email. It would be very convenient for some patients. The health personnel at JDMH were all perfect, except for the security guards who led me to the wrong directions; a minor area I hope they can improve. 

I also showed the results to Dr. Tina and she recommended that I continue the practice. I intend to do it, especially after discovering that I can reimburse the cost thru our in-house health benefits. We don't have an HMO at the workplace, but health assistance is provided when needed. I'm not sure if I have a colleagues who are reading my blog. Any case, I hope this can assure them that costs will not be an issue for mammogram and breast ultrasound. 

I learned from Gift2Life Inc. that only five of my colleagues availed of the free breast cancer risk assessment and consultation. The printed tickets, email blast and free scrunchies didn't work. :p But as explained by Dr. Tina, it was expected. It's really challenging to imbibe this practice. I admit, if I were not the head of the program, I would not have availed this opportunity. But what I realized after bravely taking the tests, peace of mind is priceless. It also felt like I was given another blessing to be grateful for.