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How I Was Bullied For Refusing a Mammogram

Yes. I was bullied for refusing a mammogram!

Before you judge my refusal, know that I had very good reasons to do so. I  just never expected to be bullied for it.

As usual, I went to the doctor for my annual checkup. Being over 40 you get used to getting bombarded with “you need to do this”, “you need to take that”, “prevention here”, “prevention there”.

It gets old pretty quickly.

So when I went through the intake process with the doctor and my medical history, I explained that I whenever I get a mammogram I always get in the findings that I have “dense breasts”.

Having dense breasts mean that the radiology tech can’t read what’s going on in the breast. The next obvious step in that situation is to send the patient for an ultrasound to make sure there is nothing they missed.

And that’s exactly what I asked the doctor to order instead of wasting time with a test I knew was not going to show anything. Better yet, the tech would not be able to read it anyway, so why spend the money?

Always Research!

If you are familiar with my blog, you already know that I like to research everything about medical conditions (it’s part of my job anyway).

I also preach that you should take charge of your treatment and that you should never accept your doctor’s words as the final word on the matter. The reason I say this is because a lot of my clients’ medical impairments started with doctor’s mistakes!

 

Bullied for refusing a mammogram

 

So you can imagine that when I decided to refuse a mammogram I had already researched other alternatives to make sure I got the best results with the least amount of harm to my body.

While I don’t want you to take my word for it either, I did my research and this is what I concluded:

Mammograms are not accurate despite what doctors say. They are not 100% safe and they cause a lot of distress not only during the exam but also when the results come out.

And here is the worst part: the test results can yield a lot of  “false positives” or “false negatives“. And when it does get it right, it means that cancer could have been there for a while. Even if you got a mammogram every year and you never got a diagnosis the year before! Especially in dense breasts.

Sick, right?!

But wait, there’s more!

Though mammograms emit low levels of radiation onto the breast during testing, according to several studies this radiation is cumulative. Now, imagine this radiation accumulating every year in your breast?

I even learned that mammograms can cause breast cancer!!

First, because they can spread cancer cells when your breast is compressed during the exam. Second, radiation causes cancer!! Everyone knows that.

When I learned about mammograms being this dangerous I was just sick to my stomach. I felt fooled! 

They tell you to get a mammogram every year starting at age 40. Now, imagine getting one every year for the rest of your life?

Crazy!

Oh, before you tell me I’m a conspiracy theorist know that this information came from several reputable cancer researchers including universities, cancer societies, and highly qualified specialists who are now questioning this recommendation. And yes, I also know people who were saved by these tests, etc, etc.

I also have family members, friends and also clients who have gone through this. So when I refused to undergo a test that everybody knows is the “standard”, understand that I did not take this lightly.

But it’s my body. It’s my choice!

I decided to skip the mammogram (for all the reasons above) and go straight to getting an ultrasound. And yes, I know ultrasounds are not perfect either.

Boy, was that a fun experience?

The Bullying Began In The Waiting Room

When I arrived at the imaging place, I checked in and I thought I would be in and out in no more than 30 minutes.

After waiting for about 25 minutes (the waiting room was not full) I noticed that they were taking a long time to call me.

Eventually, the staff called me to tell me that “because of my age” I had to do a mammogram and they were trying to reach the doctor to get an order in and that’s why the long wait.

I told them I had no interest in doing a mammogram.

The staff just about had a fit.

First, the glares. Second, the look you get when you order a “Big Mac” without pickles and onions. They, just. Can’t. Even.

Then they started repeating the same thing over and over again: “Because of your age, bla, bla”.

I told them again, I had no interest in doing a mammogram.

Then they started getting loud. Loud enough for everybody to hear.

Then they said: “we can’t do an ultrasound without a mammogram first!”.

I explained why I did not want a mammogram (not the conspiracy part but the logical part): “I have dense breasts, it’s waste of time and money“.

Especially money.

They again repeated: “because of your age…and we can’t…without a mammogram“. Loudly!

So, loudly, I asked, “is this a rule you just made up to make a buck here? ” “And how about my wishes?” “What if I had done a mammogram elsewhere and I was just here for the ultrasound?”

I could not believe this was happening to me. I felt bullied. In front of others too!

And whatever happened to privacy and HIPPA laws?

They just couldn’t handle that decision. I think it was mostly money and ignorance. Or pure disrespect for people’s wishes.

But Wait, there’s even more!

After an eternity waiting, they finally called me in to do the ultrasound. But you would think the bullying was over? Not quite!

The radiology tech still tried to push the mammogram again. She gave me the whole lecture again. I explained my reasons again.

She left the room. Then she came back with another “offer”: “we have this 3D mammogram. It’s great with dense breasts. Of course, there’s still compression. There’s still radiation”

Whatever happened with “no, means no”?

I refused. I felt bullied one more time.

I just thought, “just hold your tongue and get the ultrasound and it will be over soon“.

Was it over? Nooooo.

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We went to the exam room, she did the ultrasound and then she went to get the doctor. Supposedly they are required to tell you the results right there and then.

I thought, “Great, I will get the results now and can go home knowing that it’s all good” and this bullying will finally be over.

I was wrong. Again!

The doctor came in and instead of telling me the result of the ultrasound, she gave me yet one more lecture. I tried to reason with her. And I explained my feelings about radiation and the usefulness of a mammogram on my dense breasts. I told her that doctors always send me for ultrasounds because of the dense breasts.

But no, she was pushing that mammogram like HER life depended on it.

I explained to her that my intention was to do a thermogram. A thermogram is a noninvasive, nonradioactive imaging that allows a doctor see the formation of cancer cells years, yes, YEARS before they become cancer.

I even asked that doctor if they offered that service there since they were so keen to take my money no matter what.

Not only did she say no, but she also lied to my face saying that this exam is not FDA approved. A BIG FAT LIE!

Thermograms are FDA approved since 1982 (you can Google it if you don’t believe me). Probably available before she was even born!

To add insult to injury, I had to almost beg for her to give me the result of the ultrasound.

She begrudgingly did, but I only got a: “it was fine” mumbled between her teeth as she was storming out of the room.

What in the world was that?!!! Was I in the twilight zone?

Why the anger? Did she just want to be right?

It did not feel like warm and fuzzies. Or that she sincerely cared for me. It felt as stressful and dirty as leaving a car salesman behind.

I never expected to be bullied for refusing a mammogram.

Me. The person who researches everything. The person who takes charge of her treatment and will not let doctors tell her that she needs a medication for the rest of her life when she really doesn’t!

Do You Think That Was The End of It?

Nope!

When I received the written report with the results of my ultrasound they still wanted to have the last word.

Even though the result was normal and that it said I had only a 15% chance of getting cancer in my lifetime, they wrote that I refused to do this “mandatory” exam and that I was supposed to do that every year and so on!

They really just wanted me to feel bad!

(Face Palm Emoji!)

Please Understand My Reasons for Refusing a Mammogram

The reason I’m sharing this is not to shame breast cancer patients or undermine what they are going through. Or even to undermine the usefulness of mammograms.

My goal is to bring awareness that you must stand up for yourself. And you must take charge of your medical treatment. That ultimately you decide what you wish for your body!

The cancer industry is a profitable one and they feed off fear. “You must do this. Or do that, or else…

I truly believe we get cancer because of fear but that’s another story.

The point here is that this situation I went through should not be acceptable.

If there are other tests that won’t put you at risk you should go for it.

Sure, talk to your doctor, explain your reasons. If he’s close-minded, find someone else who will listen. If it makes sense to you then why not try?

If I know there is a test that is more accurate (in combination with others) and that will not expose me to high levels of radiation, I want that. Even if it’s not what the majority of people do.

Science gets better every day. New tests are out every day. Why settle for treatments and diagnosis that are known for harming people?

The reason mammograms are sold is because of the cancer lobbying and because it’s a great money maker.

Doctors are now questioning the accuracy of mammograms and the stress they cause when a person is diagnosed with cancer and it turns out to be nothing. Many unnecessary biopsies happen because of the inaccuracy of mammograms.

Think of the hardship and stress. Also, the expense.

Prevention? Early Detection?

 

Breast Cancer Self Check bullied for refusing a mammogram

 

Well, they sell mammograms as a tool for early detection. Early detection is important but understand, that you can have cancer and a mammogram may still not be able to “see it”.

False positives are very common and so are false negatives (like dense breasts and showing nothing on film and giving the patient a false sense of security).

I bet you anything, by the time your loved one or friend found that cancer, it was probably something the person could feel or see. The mammogram just confirmed it. It is also common for people to know they have cancer from another exam like a PET scan and a mammogram will still not find it.

Always self-examine. Always check the skin around your breasts. Look for dimpling, unusual discharges or an inverted nipple. Check your family history to see if any close relatives have had breast cancer.

And please, research!!

Don’t accept your doctor’s words as the final word. Get second opinions.

Doctor’s don’t know it all.

They need to make money to pay their student loans. It’s very tempting to just keep the status quo. It’s easier to prescribe treatment and medications than do more research for a patient. Even if it can harm them.

I see too many of these cases ending up on my desk. And I hate to see people being taken advantage of by doctors who either don’t care or just don’t know enough to really do a good job.

Take good care of yourself and don’t let anyone bully you if you want a different course of treatment. It is your body after all.

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Until next time,

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Have you ever been bullied by medical staff for refusing a test or treatment? I was recently bullied for refusing a mammogram.

18 comments

  1. Shelly T. says:

    I have also read that mammograms “can” cause breast cancer. I read this recently, it was a medical study in a journal, not some opinion piece.
    I have very small breasts and getting a mammogram for me is torture. My breasts are also very dense and this has led to ultrasounds. I’m done with the whole thing. It’s torture, and then it’s sheer terror waiting for the results, and then to be told I had a false positive or needed an ultrasound, I wanted no more of this scam. Yes, I think it’s a scam. I don’t think most women need mammograms unless there is a history or some kind of extreme environmental exposure to toxins. The worst thing is the bullying in the doctor’s offices. I have changed doctors twice because of it, and will change again soon because of it. I can’t handle being bullied and as a patient I do have a RIGHT to refuse testing that I deem to be unnecessary. But tell that to the mammogram cult.

    • Tatiana says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone. It is madness. I have the same issue as u saw in the post and it is so sad to think that at this day and age we have to deal with the bullying and fearmongering. I understand the need for those with a family history but one size doesn’t fit all and that’s what they do to us. Thank u for ur comment and for taking charge of ur body.

  2. Jane McShea says:

    I’m over 60 and recently I had some heavy attitude thrown my way at a new (to me) well-regarded women’s clinic regarding my stance on “never a mammogram.” I had an appointment with a specific doctor, but the only medical person I saw that day was an ARNP.

    The ARNP came in, never introduced herself (I had to ask who she was), and proceeded to open up the exam room computer and ask me questions I’d neglected to fill in on my health forms.

    When she saw that the date of last mammogram was blank, she asked me if I could “recall” the last time I had one. “Never” I replied. She nearly fell off her little round stool. I then told her I wasn’t keen on smashing my breasts and exposing them to radiation, but I’d be willing to think about Thermography (if I could afford it).

    She looked as if I was speaking to her in an unknown foreign language. Surely, I thought, I was not the only woman in that clinic who has refused a mammogram? I guess I was – the look on her face seemed to confirm that everyone else for years apparently went along with a mammogram, no questions asked.

    From that moment on, she gave me attitude. Never once was my blood pressure taken. Never once was my temperature taken. Never once was any blood work done to address my reason for being there. I wasn’t even there for a pap smear but thought it might be a good idea to eliminate one of my concerns (no, not a cancer concern).

    The ARNP went back and forth out of the exam room (she spent an inordinate amount of time forcing me to answer other questions I’d not filled in on the form as if she was a secretary, not a nurse). I asked several times during my hour long visit “where is the doctor?” No real answer was given to me. It became apparent I was not going to see a doctor that day.

    Finally, after one long interval where she was obviously consulting with someone she returned to tell me – as she continued to type into the computer (and not looking into my face) – that she wanted me to “know” that “in this office, we do mammograms.” Alluding perhaps that if I wanted to remain a patient I’d have to give into a mammogram.

    This is medical blackmail. It is reprehensible. It is evil. We do not give over our bodies, no questions asked, to the medical profession unless we are dead and will it to science. In the meantime, it’s our bodies to ultimately decide what’s done to it – or not.

    As if that wasn’t enough, her quick vaginal exam was one of the worst I’ve ever had. I particularly did’t appreciate a very cold speculum shoved hard up my vagina while a second student nurse stared intently at my opening as if it was the first one she’d ever seen.

    After that I was left alone to get dressed (btw, NO breast exam, so where was all this concern for my breasts?) When the ARNP returned she put my exit papers on the table and pretty much fled the room.

    THIS is what women are faced with when they refuse a mammogram.

    I am currently looking for another doctor, but am limited due to my insurance.

    How on earth can we ever trust the medical profession if we run up against closed minds such as these? Do they never read anything about how harmful mammograms can be? How dare they make us feel “less than” for refusing a medical procedure we believe will do more harm than good? It’s not THEIR body – it’s ours!

    They need to abide by our wishes and move on. This doesn’t mean I won’t have Thermography or ultrasound. This doesn’t mean that I won’t do self exams. This doesn’t mean that I won’t get cancer anyway. All this means is I’m not going to risk radiating my breasts while they are being smashed between glass just so the medical profession can feel good about themselves.

    • Tatiana says:

      Oh I hear loud and clear! You saw my story on the post. I felt horrible and I consider myself a tough person but that was uncalled for. We must take charge of our treatment and our bodies. We can’t believe in everything they do or don’t do for us. Thank you for your comment and for being aware of these things.

  3. Noreen says:

    Responding to mammo tech. Being a tech does not educate you to anything except what the cancer industry teaches you. I would never choose mammos, surgery, chemo or radiation. The latter two destroy the immune system. Surgery does not cure. Statistics show no difference in longevity in favor of cutting, poisoning and burning. And the quality of life is better than quantity of life. What is the point of living longer? if you you believe the cancer industry, you are fooling yourself.

    • Tatiana says:

      There are good points on both sides but because I see so many bad stories on my desk I do have a less than positive view of the whole cancer industry and the destruction they cause to a person’s body. Of course, in some cases, these treatments are the only reason people are alive. We have come a long way but I saw first hand how pushy they can be with myself and my own family member who was told chemo should be added to the treatment when every support group, website, and even another specialist doctor (in the same office) said chemo would not work for that type of cancer. When I asked the doctor who was pushing for the chemo how many cases she dealt with that particular cancer (a rare type) she begrudgingly told me one. So every other specialist said no chemo for this type of cancer but this dr wanted and insisted my family member should have chemo. When I asked how the treatment should work, she asked me to ask the nurse because she didn’t know. It was a disturbing experience. But I wanted to put out there my own experience because the bullying was disturbing and in front of the whole waiting room. However, I don’t want to suggest people refuse treatment but to please research. As we are seeing more and more the opioid epidemic and other medications that are offered so easily and freely because doctors want to make a buck with kickbacks from Big Pharma. I also don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist. Just my first-hand experience. I’m sure the tech’s experience was certainly more positive than others and that is always a nice thing. Thank you for your comment.

      • Noreen says:

        Hi Tatiana,

        Always like reading your insightful words. As for me, I am politically incorrect and conspiracy theories aside, the wealthiest physicians are, eait for it…ONCOLOGISTS. I had a dear musician friend, saxophonist, who had parotid cancer. The doctor wanted to remove 3/4 of his tongue which would render him unable to play, speak or eat properly. He chose chemo and they gave him tons of it. He went from 200 lbs to 95. Then went to Mayo Clinic and they said stop chemo but his local oncologist said keep doing chemo. He quit but the damage was done. He played music until two weeks before he died in hospice. It is all about the money! Chemo doctors are the richest. I stand by my decision to never do any of that stuff. They try to frighten people into the disfiguring surgery, then radiation and then chemo. No thanks.

        Noreen

        • Tatiana says:

          I completely understand your point. It is a scary situation and ultimately it is the patient’s choice. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for your readership.

  4. Julie says:

    As a mammo tech, I have seen several misleading comments in your blog. By no means am I commenting to cause any negativity but just to spread mammo awareness and to clear up some stuff that isn’t exactly accurate. There is absolutely no proof anywhere that mammos cause breast cancer. And the radiation that is given at the time, for a 2D mammo is about the same amount of radiation as a 2 hour plane flight and a 3D mammo is about the same as a 4 hour plane flight. So if you think about all the flight attendants and pilots and the people who fly for business trips often, its not as much radiation as you think it is. There is also extensive research that shows thermography does not detect cancer near as early as mammogram and is not an effective screening tool. And it is about the same cost as a mammo so there is no reason for the doctors to favor either one based on cost. My mother also had dense breast and was one of the ones routinely called back for additional imaging by the RADIOLOGIST(a medical dr who has extensive training on reading mammograms) , not the mammo tech. She went and had the ultrasounds and diagnostic mammos about 5 times before the found her cancer. And by the way, the ultrasounds are really only good to determine if a suspected spot is a mass or fluid filled cyst. It is also proven to not be an effective screening tool. So if my mother had opted out of her mammo or follow up mammos, she would possibly not be with me today. They found her cancer so small and tiny that she beat with no long recovery road. There are some aggressive breast cancers that can spread like wild fire and be spread within a year so the earlier detection the better. I agree with you and recommend that all people do their own research and do not take the advice of others. And I totally agree that the decision should be up to the patient. No one should be pressured.

    • Tatiana says:

      Thank you for your honest response. I do not suggest anyone forgo testing just because of my post. But I do ask that people take charge of their bodies because I am seeing more and more that doctors are not taking the time necessary to explain things to patients including pros and cons of tests and exams. In my case, all of those tests including the ultrasound when the mammo didn’t capture the breast were recommended by the dr. As to cost, the opposite was true. The costs were much higher. I guess it depends on the state you are in and what kind of insurance you have. Mine was not the best at the time so I had a lot of out of pocket. It is disheartening to also see how the “cancer lobby” is working to terrify people just to make money and expose people to harmful radiation and other poisonous treatments (and I’m not talking just chemo here). But I see what you mean and I appreciate your comment. I am glad your mother is still around and hope for many years to come. Thank you again for your honesty.

  5. Elsa says:

    I’m glad I came across your blog, reading through it gave me the idea whether to accept or refuse the test. Whenever I have mammo the result was always dense. This morning I got a call requesting me for diagnostic mammo, I just had the regular screening two days ago. Now that I’ve read about your experience, I gives me the courage to turn it down. I am a petite woman with very small breast. The agony of being squashed on that machine is unbearable for me. I hate it among all medical exams for women. Thank you for sharing. God bless!

    • Tatiana says:

      I’m so happy to hear you are taking control of your health. I’m not the type to be a conspiracy theorist but dealing with claimants with different medical issues everyday gives me a unique perspective and what I learned with my own medical issues is that doctors are not always right and that the “cancer mafia” and the “prescription mafia” is doing more bad than good for patients. It is sad to see perfectly healthy people being told they will need a certain medication for the rest of their lives when they really don’t need it or just need to adjust their lifestyle (diet, exercise or other more holistic approaches to their illnesses. Thank you for your words. I’m glad this post is helping others to take care of their bodies.

  6. Noreen says:

    Brava! I am 77 yrs. old and am going through a similar situation. I am the exception to the rule. I take no meds and am prediabetic going on 10 yrs but drank a ginger ale right before bloodwork which may have skewed test. Still showed pre. I figure at my age, 10 bloodtests over the years show prediabetes. Also have moderate stage 3 kidney disease. Had kidney probles starting age 11 so I will likely live until I die. I am 77 so it is a moot point. I just want paperwork from doctor saying I need home services but this young fool MD resident is trying to “make his bones” by using me as a guinea pig. Also mildly hypogenic fatty liver with normal liver blood tests. Right away discussion of statins, which can kill and have myriad side effects. I declined. I prefer nutrition over medication.
    Back to breast ultrasound. I declined mammo because of squeezing, dense breasts and a benign microcalcification biopsy several years ago. I was angry over a doctor threatening to drop me if I dod not do that biopsy; he dropped me anyway after biopsy!. I had a core needle and was angry about it afterward. I had two necessary surgeries for other things and dropped all medical care for 10 years. Now I need Medicaid to get help at home and am being held hostage to things I do not want to do because I need the MD to complete paperwork for Medicaid to cover services. I absolutely hate the doctor and clinic but getting a new doctor to do paperwork is unhelpful. They want to do tests when you get a new doctor. I am dropping out of medical care again.

    • Tatiana says:

      Oh How I hear you! My biggest pet peeve how much they want to test you and how little they make sense. I’m glad you wish to take control of your treatment because most people think doctors are gods and what they say it’s the law. If I were to believe in every recommendation I would be in so many pills “for the rest of my life” it’s unacceptable. It’s ok to say no if you believe you are wasting time and money. I always try to look for alternative treatments when possible unless they are strictly necessary. We sure don’t want to go back to the times pre-penicillin for sure. Keep on researching and check the list of doctors from your available insurance and check their reviews to see which ones at least show some care for their patients and you will find the right doctor for you. All the best and thank you for reading the article!

      • Noreen says:

        Tatiana,
        You have a great site and are offering a needed service. Today, hooray! My doctor phoned and agreed with me re the ultra and mammo and canceled. I can always decide to do something later if necessary. I want to put off and get other things completed. I used to act as advocate for other people ten years older than me concerning pain meds. To me, if one needs pain meds in their 80’s, if they are addicted, so what! They are not doing anything but trying to ameliorate pain. Cut them some slack, I say.

        • Tatiana says:

          So true! They had a long life and deserve a little break. Glad to hear that things are looking up for you too. Thank you for your encouraging words. My hope is that a lot of people get the best possible info to get their cases going and on to a win. Cheers!

  7. Tricia says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had a negative experience. In my opinion, it is your body and you have the right to accept or refuse any procedure. I wouldn’t be returning to that doctor/clinic and I hope you’re able to find a place that is more accepting of your needs.

    • Tatiana says:

      Thank you for your understanding. It is a tricky subject because we have heard these recommendations for so long that when you try to defy the status quo people just don’t understand. Science evolves and we should too. Thank you for your comment. All the best!

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