Jill Biden encourages women to get mammograms: nothing is more important

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Adding her voice to the important message is our First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Jill recorded a PSA encouraging women to get their mammograms. The message is part of Lifetime’s Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign, but breast cancer is an important cause to Dr. Jill. After four of her friends were diagnosed with the disease in the 90s, she founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative that educates about early detection. So this PSA is the perfect spot for Dr. Jill to remind women to get their mammograms, which could save their lives.

As first lady, a professor of English, a mother and grandmother, Dr. Jill Biden’s daily to-do list is likely pretty long. But she’s taking time to remind women to prioritize their health.

“I get it. You’re busy. There are kids or grandkids to look after. You have so many things to take care of,” Biden, 70, says in a new PSA encouraging women to make an appointment for a mammogram. “Take a moment to put your health first. Get your mammogram. It might save your life. And nothing on your to-do list is more important than that.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Dr. Biden’s PSA is part of Lifetime’s Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign. The spot will run on air as well as on the network’s social media channels.
The first lady started encouraging women to educate themselves about breast cancer in 1993, when four of her friends were diagnosed with the disease, which affects one of eight women in the United States.

After her friends’ diagnoses, Dr. Biden “launched the Biden Breast Health Initiative to educate Delaware high school girls about the importance of early detection,” according to her official White House bio. “As First Lady, Dr. Biden continues to stress the importance of cancer research and early detection efforts, especially in underrepresented communities and rural areas.”

Dr. Biden’s PSA wraps with an invitation to visit cancer.gov or to call 1-800-4-Cancer to get more information, including a fact sheet about mammograms.

“Between work, taking care of kids and grandkids, and all the demands of hectic modern life, women so often put themselves — and their health — last,” Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, tells PEOPLE. “Plus, with the global pandemic, many people have put off important health screenings, including mammograms. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the first lady is asking women to put their health first and schedule their mammogram if it’s time.”

[From People]

I am terrible about getting my mammograms. It’s sheer laziness, too, nothing else. I have the reminder sheet from my doctor pinned to the corkboard above my monitor with a pert pair of drawn boobs greeting me every morning. But in honor of BCA month and Dr. Jill, I just scheduled my appointment. Because she’s right. Laziness is no reason not to get checked. I do self-exams, but they are not as effective at early detection as mammograms are. We’re focusing on so many aspects of women’s health that are under attack right now, it’s easy to forget about routine screenings and checkups. Take care of yourselves and encourage you friends to do the same. Just FYI, I did schedule my appointment but didn’t get one until January. Remember that the COVID vaccine is showing up in odd ways on those screenings so you have to have a six-week delay between vaccine and mammogram. That’s includes boosters, so plan accordingly.

Do check out the fact sheet referenced in the article. You can find it here. It’s very informative on all things mammogram, but it also discusses cost and resources for those who don’t have insurance. These tests can seem impossible financially, but there are options.

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Photo credit: Avalon Red, Backgrid and Instagram

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55 Responses to “Jill Biden encourages women to get mammograms: nothing is more important”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    Schedule your mammogram.

    Also do monthly self-exams. I found my own tumor before I was old enough for mammograms.

    • Strategic move? says:

      THIS!
      Would like to add that my tumor couldn’t be identified on a mammogram cause tissue was too tight. Ultrasound exam was better in this respect.

    • marehare says:

      Also women need to get their PAP yearly. Doctors don’t care about women older than 65 since they are telling women that age and older that they don’t need to get a PAP anymore. My sister believed her doctor, stopped getting her PAP, and then at age 75 she discovered a lump on her privates. She went to doctor and then Stanford Hospital where they discovered she had stage 4 cervical cancer. If she had continued getting her PAP, they would have found it in its earliest stage, and gotten rid of it with out it taking her life. I tell all women to never stop getting their PAP as it can save your life. I’m 76 and I get my PAP and Mamogram yearly to protect my self. I also get my colonoscophy when advised to protect myself. Love yourself and get your cancer tests. Don’t believe your doctor about not needing your PAP after age 65.

      • blisteringsun says:

        seconding @marehare about yearly exams. last year i went in for a yearly and i was already at stage 3 cervical cancer. i had no symptoms and go in yearly as scheduled. if i’d skipped or postponed it, it would have been much more serious for me.
        protect yourselves, ladies!

  2. Mcmmom says:

    If your city has a Solis Mammography, they are incredibly fast and easy – and they get you in within days.

  3. Tinuvielle says:

    The best would be mammograms and ultrasound.
    My sister (41) had a breast that was getting deformed and was red. On the mammo, all was apparently good. It is the ultrasound that detected the invasive lobular carcinoma.

    So ladies, if possible, ask for both.

    • OriginalLala says:

      my Dr said that people who are under 50 and/or have dense breasts should always get a mammo and ultrasound combo instead of just one because the chances of something being missed by one is fairly high.

    • Alexandria says:

      Is ultrasound less uncomfortable and can I just go for ultrasound straight?

      • souperkay says:

        Ultrasound is less uncomfortable. I normally have to have both bc of my breast tissue & I hate the mammogram but the ultrasound is fine.

      • Esmom says:

        Ultrasound is definitely less uncomfortable. I have been called back after mammograms several times because of my dense tissue. But my provider won’t do ultrasounds without a mammogram first. I have learned to deal with the discomfort. It’s only a few seconds and only once a year. You got this!

      • Lightpurple says:

        Ultrasounds are targeted and don’t get an image of everything. Mammogram first, then ultrasound. And an ultrasound can hurt too if they’re looking at something specific and the tech has to bear down on the area.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I don’t think most insurance companies would cover an ultrasound before a mammogram.

      • Belly says:

        Sonographer here.

        Yes, ultrasound is less uncomfortable. And yes, we can pick up some types of malignancies that don’t show up on mammo.

        But, ultrasound alone is not going to detect the tiny calcifications associated with malignancies like DCIS. It is also extremely operator dependent.

        Both can detect masses that are not palpable.

        Get both if you can.

  4. heygingersnaps says:

    A neighbour of mine who we cherish just got diagnosed with breast cancer, we’re all rooting for her and that she pulls through. I can’t help but remember that I lost a dear colleague of mine to it, a few years ago who’s of a similar age to her (in 60′s, grandparent to 4 young children (pre-teens and teens)).
    This prompted me to see my gp as I had been experiencing a dull pain in my left breast for a few weeks now, she checked for lumps on both but didn’t find any so she didn’t refer me for a mammogram and just prescribed ibuprofen gel to apply to the affected areas.

  5. OriginalLala says:

    I just had my first mammogram at age 36 – found a lump and had 2 ultrasounds that revealed a cystic structure with some solid parts. Had a full mamo, ultrasound, and breast mri this week and it’s something called Fat necrosis, caused by my breast reduction surgery a few years ago. Totally benign.
    Get those lumps checked out! Yes, mammograms aren’t fun but the peace of mind is worth it.

  6. Still_Sarah says:

    I live in Canada and there is universal healthcare. So the government is more involved in your health issues and “manages” it somewhat. The Health Ministry sends an annual notice to women over 50 giving them the phone # of a nearby health clinic that does mammograms and telling them to make an appointment. It’s all free. Great stuff although I’ve never found it to be a comfortable test.

    I keep remembering that Erma Bombeck joke that every time she heard the word mammogram, she felt she was supposed to put her breasts in an envelope and mail them somewhere. LOL.

  7. Miss Jupitero says:

    I have breast cancer right now– my prognosis is excellent though, in large part due to early detection. Mammography machines can find tumors the size of a grain of sand. Mine was the size of a lentil. I’m anticipating full recovery.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Sending healing thoughts your way, Jupitero.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Thank you! It means a lot to me! I just had surgery, and let’s just say Boston is a great city for crushing cancer. My doctor’s are amazing.

        The skinny is that the only way truly to beat breast cancer is early detection. I never would have found this on my own

      • LightPurple says:

        Glad you’re comfortable and confident with your medical team. Yes, we truly are blessed with the incredible healthcare resources in our area AND our state’s mandated health insurance benefits that go beyond what the ACA requires. I found it took about a year for things to settle down completely after the surgery. As tissues healed, the breast itself changed size and shape but not all at once. I hope the rest of your recovery continues to go well and you’re able to resume all normal activities as quickly as possible.

    • Esmom says:

      Miss J, wishing you a speedy and smooth recovery.

  8. Sam the Pink says:

    Do your research before you get a mammogram. There is actually not a lot of great evidence that suggests they actually help save lives. They certainly can improve outcomes for some woman with certain types of breast cancer (yes, there are different kinds, and they don’t all respond the same way to treatment). The cancer most likely to be detected via mammogram is something called DCIS, which in reality is an extremely slow-growing form of breast cancer that is actually unlikely to threat your life, unlike some of the more aggressive forms.

    I do not support organizations that continue to push mammography because of the mixed track record. The absolute best route to take to to take lifestyle steps to reduce your overall risk. While that doesn’t sound as great, its the best option. Lead an overall healthy lifestyle. Cancer risk goes up if you smoke, are overweight, etc.

    What scares me most is how there a is growing body of research that is pointing to environmental factors as playing a huge role in breast cancer – especially things like endocrine disruptors and PFAS. I have started trying to remove as much plastic and other disposables from my life (as well as those of my kids, which include 4 daughters). There are lots of decent organizations out there that push for this kind of research and work on actual treatments for those who are diagnosed, and I chose to support them.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Uhm, I had a highly aggressive form of infiltrator ductal carcinoma, triple negative. It showed up quite clearly on the mammogram.

    • OriginalLala says:

      While good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle cut certain risk factors, screening is absolutely important for women. This is a cancer that affects 1 in 8 women. Advocating against screening will cause active harm to women who may already be scared to have mammograms.
      And I’ll add that mammograms aren’t the only screening tool for BC, ultrasounds, breast MRIs, 3D mammos all help to ensure BC is caught early when it is more treatable.

      • souperkay says:

        Agreed. Mammogram is step 1 & if it’s inconclusive, there are other tools in the box to determine what is going on but it shouldn’t be skipped or derided because it’s not the perfect, definitive imaging.

    • EMF999 says:

      So I’m going to correct you. Like there are different types of breast cancers, there are different types of DCIS. Mine was found in a routine mammogram. It was huge (took up most of my breast) and had all the markers to become invasive; it grew that much between mammograms. My routine mammogram (according to my doctors at Mayo), most likely stopped this from becoming invasive and I am forever grateful that 7 years ago I had that mammogram. That sucker could have killed me.

    • Jess says:

      You lost me at “do your research”.

    • josephine says:

      If you stop just one woman from getting the mammogram she needs, you’ve contributed to her death. Just stop. My friend was nervous about getting a mammogram and kept putting it off. There is always an excuse – I’m too busy, I have no risk factors, I’m still pretty young. Her very first mammogram at age 56 detected cancer. And they could not save her. Early detection does matter.

      • Esmom says:

        Oh no, I am so sorry for your loss.

        Off topic slightly but I would say the same about getting a colonoscopy. My husband put his first one off because he got busy at work and by the time he got around to it a couple years later, he actually had cancerous polyps.

        We should be grateful for the advances in modern medicine we have access to instead of thinking we know more than the experts because we have internet access. Sigh.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I completely agree, josephine. Sam the Pink’s post is completely irresponsible.

      • josephine says:

        @ Esmom – abolutely agree. We are privileged to have this technology,and colonoscopies are truly not a big deal.

    • BETTER.THAN.SCRUBS says:

      As a breast cancer surgeon, I’m going to disagree vehemently. Mammography is one of the few screening modalities proven to save lives.
      https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/annual-mammograms-at-40-saves-more-lives
      https://www.breastsurgeons.org/docs/statements/Position-Statement-on-Screening-Mammography.pdf
      Especially as we now have increased options for treatment and genomic testing to determine which cancers are more aggressive and need aggressive approaches vs those that aren’t, screening mammography is essential for early detection and avoidance of harsher treatments.

      To answer questions above – ultrasounds do not replace mammograms, as they do not detect most calcifications and are very user dependent – they are best for evaluating a specific area of concern. For dense breasts, you have the option of screening MRI and (hopefully to be approved soon) contrast-enhanced mammograms. 3D mammograms (tomosynthesis) are also beneficial especially in denser breasts, and are more sensitive and specific than standard digital mammograms. Healthy lifestyles with low alcohol intake, healthy weight, regular exercise, and diet low in saturated fats are protective, but your strongest risk factor is the estrogen getting pumped out by your ovaries over your life between menarche and menopause. Nothing counteracts that.

      • Esmom says:

        Thank you for the info!

      • Lightpurple says:

        Thank you.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Estrogen dominance is a huge thing to watch out for! Thank you for pointing that out.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Also, when I am not fretting about my own cancer treatment, I am deeply impressed by the state of cancer treatment and research. I did t know that there were a lot of different kinds of breast cancer. Treatment is very tailored! I could geek out on this all day.

        I feel very lucky in that my cancer, in addition to being caught early, is the kind that can be treated with aromatase inhibitors. It’s not a walk in the park, but I just found out I can skip both radiation and chemo.

      • LightPurple says:

        That’s great news, Miss Jupitero!

        And yes, there is a lot to geek out over and some extremely dark humor in it all. Four of us in my extended family have had it, all different types, and we can talk for hours about the different types and treatments for each. We scare other family members away. And no, I don’t have the BRCA gene, which is another thing people don’t know or understand. The majority of women who have breast cancer do not have the gene.

    • Layday says:

      Yeah I’m sorry but this comment is completely inappropriate. I was diagnosed in my late 20s with breast cancer and I had no family history. No one thought to give me a mammogram because it seemed unlikely I had breast cancer and my lump was attributed to being a cyst until an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed I had breast cancer (HER 2 Positive). Just because I wasn’t diagnosed based on a mammogram doesn’t mean I would cast credibility on mammograms catching breast cancer. While it didn’t lead to my diagnosis but research shows they help lead to diagnosis for many women. I now get 3D mammograms because I am so young and have dense breasts. I appreciate that I have a tool that helps me now be proactive moving forward and you really shouldn’t be so dismissive of life saving tools. I am all for practicing a healthier lifestyle but cancer has been around a long time and goes back to Egyptian mummies (read The Emperor of All Maladies). Dismissing life saving tools with the mistaken belief that you can healthy eat/lifestyle your way out of getting cancer tells me you haven’t done your research.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      Sam the Pink, you are out of your mind. Early detection absolutely saves lives. I had a tumor removed that was the size of a lentil. Because of technology, I am getting off way easy.

      Btw I am a massive health nut and avoid plastics, etc. If I can get cancer, anyone can get cancer. Lifestyle and staying away from risk factors will help you, but ultimately there are many kinds of cancer and we don’t know what causes all of them.

    • Notafan says:

      Some of the above comments on mammogram do not quite accurately represent the data out there. DCIS is not actually well seen on mammogram but certain patterns of calcifications can clue us in that biopsy is needed. Lobular carcinoma is not well seen in mammogram but if someone has breast changes and a normal mammogram then additional imaging and/or biopsy should be done. DCIS can be low grade or high grade. Low grade is slow growing but high grade can grow more quickly and become invasive. Mammograms do save lives, but there is some controversy as to whether doing them every year saves more lives than doing them every 2-3 years. Ultrasound alone is not an effective screening tool for breast cancer but ultrasound with mammogram in younger women is helpful.

      “Pushing mammograms”= applying the standard of care for screening for breast cancer. If you don’t support organizations that recommend them then that is your right but I certainly hope they continue to advocate for the method of screening that is best for the population as a whole.

    • Belly says:

      You’re really ill-informed for someone who advocates doing your research.

      I’m in Australia, where our BreastScreen service is provided for free by our government, so not ‘being pushed’ by any party who stands to profit.

      So I’ll help you with your research, here is some great evidence that it saves lives, and increases survival rate.

      https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/breastscreen-australia-monitoring-report-2020/contents/summary

  9. Jess says:

    Y’all just do it! It’s not as bad as you think it will be I promise, by the time it starts to get uncomfortable or painful it’s over. A friend of mine has implants and they have to kind of move them around to get her to tissue and she even says it’s not bad. I have small dense breasts so I get a mammo and ultrasound once a year, I found a lump 3 years ago at 37, turned out to be benign but it’s good to keep a check on those things.

  10. Juliette says:

    I am so strict about getting mine. My best friend of 40 years died 3 weeks ago from breast cancer at 48 years old.

    She felt a lump & didn’t get it checked for 9 months & by that time it was in her back, ribs, breasts & sternum. A long, horrible 7 1/2 year battle. The bravest woman I’ve ever known.

    I begged her to get checked so many times & she was too scared. I’m so very sad she’s gone but it was a real wake up call to us to not hesitate if you feel something.

  11. Kath says:

    My sister got diagnosed with a very aggressive triple-negative breast cancer at 29 (!) just a few months ago. The tumor grew to almost 3 cm in just a couple of weeks. We had no family history at all and she led a very healthy lifestyle. This is a risk to all women so please get checked often!
    I saw a comment above saying that having a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention and I couldn’t disagree more. For some types of cancers sure, but many others are just unlucky genetic mutations.
    Now, due to my sister’s diagnosis, I have to get ultrasound checks every year at least, and I’m so grateful that medicine and science advanced enough that we have the option to do that. We should all take advantage of that if possible.

  12. JanetDR says:

    Mammograms used to be horrible, but they are so much better now!
    Nice to have another reason to be proud of Dr. Biden too.

  13. Bookie says:

    I had a double mastectomy a few months ago. A mammogram discovered a tiny tumor that would have become so much worse if I didn’t get regular mammograms. As it was, I still needed the surgery but did not need chemo or radiation. Please get checked!

    • What...now? says:

      I just had a double mastectomy a few weeks ago. They found it after my annual mammogram and ultrasound (I had dense breast tissue, cysts, and calcium deposits). I’m in my early 50s with no history of breast cancer in my family. Ladies, it is SO important to keep up with this, no matter how inconvenient it is! After my ultrasound, I had to get a couple of biopsies, where they confirmed the cancer. I was shocked beyond anything, but luckily it was still very early. After the biopsies I was scheduled an MRI w/dye, where they found a SECOND small tumor. Two weeks later I was on the operating table. So far, everything has come out well for me with no radiation necessary. I’m still waiting to hear about chemo–because they do testing on your genetic markers to see if you need it. BUT, the good news is, my oncologist said since it was caught so early, it hadn’t spread anywhere and there is a good chance I won’t need chemo.

      So, again, please, please get checked, it could literally save your life!

  14. JennyJenny says:

    Not ALL Breast Cancer can be found in a mammogram ~

    I sadly have Stage 4 INFLAMMATORY Breast Cancer; no lump.
    Mine was found during a chest MRI, that I requested because I knew something was wrong, even though my mammogram said nothing.

    Look for changes in your skin, as IBC runs throughout the lymphatic system on your chest. Shooting Pain, redness, orange peel- like skin, constant itching.
    It’s most often misdiagnosed as Mastitis and women are just given antibiotics. Because of delays in diagnosis, IBC is always Stage 3 or 4 before properly diagnosed. It is also the most deadly of all the Breast Cancers…

    Many Doctors are unaware of IBC as well. My first Breast doctor had no clue! Fortunately, I wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept asking for more testing, or I wouldn’t be here today.
    Take the time to learn about IBC ~ you just never know.

    Read your body as well when doing the lump checks.
    Just be aware that not all Breast Cancers always have a lump!!!

  15. PixiePaperdoll says:

    Y’all have almost convinced me to schedule my first one. I pushed it off to 45 and then pandemic but now doctors are back to paying attention and tracking stuff.

  16. Rise & Shine says:

    Seriously all, this is a must do. Not fun, but not the worst of medical tests screenings at all. Please I beg you to do this. My Mom is a survivor of this, and for that I am grateful every day. Let’s make sure we all are. And P.S. I love Jill Biden and thank her for this.

  17. Coco says:

    I finished treatment for estrogen+/progesterone+/HER2 neg breast cancer in January of this year. I got mammograms yearly and was told my tumors were dense breast tissue. I believed the radiologists until I developed pain and nipple drainage from the affected breast. I had advanced breast cancer with 5 affected lymph nodes and 9 tumors in my right breast. I’ve since had a bilateral mastectomy and axilary lymph node dissection which cost me 17 lymph nodes. I had chemo and radiation and am currently being treated for lymphedema in my right arm. From diagnosis in January of 2020, it took me exactly 12 months to be considered in remission. I have since learned that 1 in 5 mammograms will be a false negative. If I had to do it over again knowing what I know now, I would have asked for an ultrasound and biopsy. If you have a lump of any kind, get a biopsy as it is the only definitive answer as to whether it is cancerous. Prevention is absolutely key here and even waiting a few months can drastically change the outcome. I have scars from armpit to armpit, chest and right arm numbness, continued fatigue from radiation, “chemo brain”, joint pain, dizziness and hot flashes from the aromatase inhibitor and now the ongoing lymphedema in my right arm. I feel lucky to have survived and my prognosis is considered good but only time will tell. Get your mammograms and ask for a biopsy if there is any suspicious lumps ladies.