Within the remit of the NHS breast screening programme, women over 50 and under 70 who are registered with a GP are called for a mammogram every three years.
The first invitation arrives between the 50th and 53rd birthdays. My invitation arrived a couple of weeks ago and I went along today for the procedure which was straightforward and completely painless, I didn't even find it particularly uncomfortable. Going to the dentist's - for a check-up (!) is far worse in my opinion. I'll receive the results within two weeks and I hope it'll be a straightforward all-clear.
A number of women poets have written about their life-changing experiences of breast cancer. Here's one from Helen Farish, whose poems I find moving and very powerful.
I'm running away with my breasts
to Barcelona, the Canaries.
They've a fancy for some seafront life,
fishermen, local wine.
I'm leaving no more of them at the hospital.
I understand the lump now,
how the cells got together
in a crescent like a young moon,
a smooth-sea boat, a hammock.
All these symbols of longing:
if I had taken notice
they would not have taken shape.