When it comes to down-to-earth celebs who tell it like it is, few rank higher in my books that Jennifer Garner. She's worn her kids' atrocious knitting, sold Girl Scout cookies outside of a supermarket, and now she's letting fans peer into her medical care — for good reason. Jennifer Garner documented her mammogram appointment in an adorably candid Instagram video in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. If you think mammograms are only for your grandma, or find the idea of getting the girls squeezed in a machine terrifying, Garner is here to show you just how important and easy breast cancer screenings can be.
Garner posted the video Wednesday evening, popping out from behind her doctor's privacy curtain with an important message. "Happy October," she said. "It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it's time for a mammogram." She goes back behind the curtain before coming out in a hospital top to let fans see how the process works.
After some silly breast chart doodles, perky music plays and Garner goes through the mild discomfort of her mammogram — hilarious faces and all — before her doctor comes out to give her the all clear. "Your mammogram looks perfect," he tells her, and the two celebrate.
In the Instagram post, Garner explains that this isn't her first rodeo. "Every October I have a standing date. For a mammogram," she wrote. "For me, having the appointment on the books makes it routine, like the dentist. I know it’s scary, sisters, but just do it — the next best thing to an all clear is early detection. To everyone in the thick of the battle —respect and love and strength to you."
For those who aren't familiar with the process, a mammogram is a certain type of x-ray that allows medical professionals to examine breast tissues for lumps or irregularities. During the procedure, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, "the breast is exposed to a small dose of ionizing radiation that produces an image of the breast tissue." This is the standard approach to breast cancer screenings.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer begin getting yearly mammograms at age 45, when risk is high, then drop down to bi-annual screenings at age 55, according to HealthLine. However, women can opt to begin their mammograms as early as age 40. Garner, 47, is right on track for her screenings and not afraid to tell the world.
As Garner pointed out in her post, the next best thing to an "all clear" is early detection. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early, while still in the localized stage, the survival rate is 100%. Aside from mammograms, early detection comes from monthly breast self exams and regular clinical breast exams.
October is the perfect time to follow in Garner's footsteps and see your own doctor about getting a mammogram. If you're not quite in the age range for this sort of exam, consider conducting a self-exam and making it a regular part of a healthy lifestyle. For more information on how to examine yourself, BreastCancer.org offers step-by-step self exam instructions that make it too easy not to check yourself this month.
No matter how you honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make it an investment in your health. Thanks, Jen, for the reminder!