My primary care doctor retired, and the new one strongly recommended that I have a mammogram. It had been four years since my last one.
I told her that every time I've had a mammogram in the past, the pain has been almost unbearable for me during the procedure, and it's been followed by weeks of severe pain and swelling after having been crushed and bruised. And I am a person with very high pain tolerance--I've given birth twice without drugs, and have survived having a dental crown fall out minutes before I got on a five-hour flight with no painkillers.
And while I understand that mammograms are the best available tool for diagnosing breast cancer in most women, I have very small, dense breasts (almost-A cup, down from the C cup I was before pregnancy and the DD cup I was when lactating). My previous mammograms had never yielded much valuable data, because (I was told) my breast tissue is too dense for anyone to assess much of anything from the mammogram. So then they've requested follow-up ultrasounds.
And those ultrasounds always find some large but benign, fluid-filled cysts--WHICH I SUSPECT ARE SIGNS OF DAMAGE FROM HAVING BEEN CRUSHED IN A MAMMOGRAM MACHINE A WEEK OR TWO BEFORE, because those cysts have always vanished completely by the time I've had a follow-up ultrasounds, a few months later.
So I asked my new doctor to just cut to the chase and order an ultrasound without a mammogram. She agreed that this was a good idea, and did so.
But then I received a call from the imaging center (which was a different one than my previous primary care doctor had used), basically saying that they had to follow a protocol of some sort, and they said that my doctor obviously didn't know how things worked when she ordered only an ultrasound, and they flat-out refused to schedule an ultrasound without a mammogram first, "to see if an ultrasound is even necessary."
I would think an ultrasound is cheaper than a mammogram, so I didn't see the logic there, but I reluctantly scheduled the mammogram.
It was as horrible as it always is, and I got the same call a week later, saying that I needed to come back for a redo. No, I said, I'm only going to have an ultrasound. I had to have a mammogram to get one, which I had now done, and I was only going to the ultrasound I'd suffered for, not another mammogram. The scheduler finally relented, but she wanted to schedule the ultrasound right away. I said, "No, my breasts are so sore and tender and swollen from the mammogram that I'm still in severe pain a week later. I'm not going to let someone grind an ultrasound wand into them for at least another month." So we scheduled it later.
And then when I showed up for just the ultrasound, a technician tried to force me to have another mammogram that day, anyway!
She said that the technician who had taken the other mammogram wasn't as good at doing it as she is, because "you really have to smash the breast tissue absolutely flat." I assured her that NO ONE could have smashed my breasts any flatter than the previous technician had, and another mammogram would yield the same useless data and the same injury to me, and I wasn't going to put myself through that again.
Then she gave me a big, impassioned, INFURIATINGLY PATRONIZING lecture on how mammograms hurt, but "breast cancer hurts, too!" I am very proud of my usually passive-aggressive self for calmly saying to her, "No, I still don't think the risk outweighs the benefit here, and I will not be bullied into unnecessary pain and radiation exposure. I'm only having an ultrasound today."
So I did, and everything was fine. Not even any cysts.
I've since enrolled in a free genetic study that screened my DNA for nine genes associated with breast cancer, and woohoo! I tested negative for all of them! So I'm determined not to have another mammogram for several years.