Breast Exams, Mammograms, and Joining Amanda’s Army

Two weeks ago I signed up to walk in the Breast Cancer 3 Day event in Philadelphia this coming September. It is something I have always wanted to do, but year after year the timing of the walk did not work in my favor. So this year, despite not having someone currently battling the disease to walk for (and gratefully so), I eagerly signed up.

Then, last week, my friend Amanda was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Fate can be vicious that way.

Upon hearing her diagnosis, a few of my girlfriends mentioned that they were due for a mammogram. Two of them had been putting it off for a while. For a very long while. Not just because mammograms are uncomfortable, but also because they were concerned about the risks associated with radiation from the test.

Amanda is 32, which tells you everything you should need to know about the importance of self-exams. She was not due to have her first mammogram for eight more years, at the very earliest. Last year another friend of mine found her lump just a few weeks after getting her annual mammogam. It was located up near the armpit in a spot that is not covered by mammography.

While regular self-exams are incredibly important, mammography also saves thousands of lives each year. One recent study from a Harvard Medical School Professor of Surgery found that women under age 50 would benefit tremendously from greater screening compliance. Younger women, it seems, tend to have faster growing tumors. This particular study also confirms that regular mammography screening is still the best way to significantly reduce breast cancer deaths.

Let’s get women (like myself) who fear that annual radiation to the breasts might actually do more harm than good for a moment. Research shows that women tend to overestimate the amount of radiation used during mammography. However if you are still concerned, rather than skipping your annual test, look for a facility that offers digital mammography. The radiation dose associated with digital mammography is significantly lower (averaging 22% lower) than that of conventional film mammography, especially for women with larger and denser breasts.

The moral of this story is:

  1. Do regular self-exams starting at a young age and continuing consistently throughout the remainder of your life.
  2. Get your annual mammogram. The results are worth the discomfort. And if are concerned about radiation, have your test done at a facility that does digital imaging.


Amanda’s friends are working to help raise funds, awareness, and support for this brave mom of two young girls. If you would like to make a donation, please go to: There are also items for sale at CafePress at Profits from the sale of the items and using the affiliate link will go directly to Amanda.

Please join #AmandasArmy as we help our friend in her fight against breast cancer.

Image source: Heather Durdil Photography


  1. As a young woman, I remember hearing my mom talk about putting off her mammogram, and I didn’t quite get it until I was of mammogram-age. Now, it is a struggle to make myself go. It somewhat feels like I am putting off the inevitable, who’s number is next with BC…it is such an epidemic. BUT, early detection is crucial and I am calling today to book.

  2. Thank you for the reminder. I am so behind on getting my baseline mammo. I am concerned about the radiation, but also, I am lazy. I need to get on it. I’m 42.

  3. Thanks for this, Jessica. I’ve gotten yearly mammograms for the past few years because of an abnormal baseline; after having a friend with breast cancer, you know it’s never to early. I do get lazy and rely on the mammograms and know I need to do self-exams as well. Good luck at the 3-day, I’ll be cheering you on!

  4. 32 years old. Oh my word. I will pray for your friend Amanda. God bless you for signing up and making a difference. I hope the 3 days are 3 of the best of your entire life.

  5. I’m only 39, but opted to start getting mammos at 35. Too many friends have been diagnosed. It needs to stop.

  6. After putting off my first mammogram for a year- even with a medical history that makes my mammograms crucial- I was so mad at myself for waiting. Thanks for sharing this important topic- and I am so excited for your three-day (even if the fact that you now have someone to walk for makes me sad).

  7. I don’t know Amanda but I’m praying for her. I know a few young ladies in their early 30s who have been diagnosed. It’s so scary.

  8. I want to share about this event as well. I’m older than Amanda. That is scary! I need to self check more regularly!

  9. I am way behind on getting the mammogram done. For the longest time, my excuse was breastfeeding my kids. But my youngest is now 6 and I’m 46. I need to do this. I have been worried about something, and I’m not sure if it’s an issue or just an early sign of menopause. Time to put those worries to bed.

  10. It’s so sad that we all have to realize our immortality when something like this happens to someone we know. We won’t let Amanda’s diagnosis be in vain. As I pray for her, I’ll also make sure I’m doing what I need to do to be aware of my own health issues.

  11. I am always very concerned about it I had one at 40 but need another this year. Time to make an appointment. Amanda is a fighter.

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