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Mammogram Parties: Overlake Makes Breast Health A Good Time

When it comes to mammograms, Overlake Medical Center is turning this uncomfortable medical test into an excuse to throw a party.

It's no secret why women dread mammograms: the paper gown, the technician grabbing your "girls" to fit them onto the cold, metal X-ray plate, and then of course, there is the squishing of the breasts while you hold your breath.

It may be a life-saving screening process, but not the most fun you can have in an hour. But lately, some health professionals have come up with some ways to make the process less heinous. It all starts with some wine and cheese...

Overlake Medical Center is helping women host Mammogram Parties for their friends and family. The women meet at one of Overlake's Bellevue or Issaquah breast screening locations, and relax in robes with wine and cheese or tea and cookies, while taking turns getting examined by a radiologist. Like any party, the hostess gets a gift, according to the medical center.

Dr. Elliott Sacks, a radiologist at Overlake Medical Center and Vantage Radiology, told Q13 that women opt to hold a mammogram party for a variety of reasons.

"As minor a thing as inconvenience, to the expense... to the discomfort of a mammogram, and of course the concern of finding out that she might have breast cancer," he told the TV station.

Insurance covers the mammograms, though the snacks and refreshments are provided by the hospital, according to Sacks.

To schedule a party, call Overlake Hospital Medical Center at 425-688-5700.

Breast cancer survivor and Patch editor Ronni Newton of Connecticut went to her first mammogram party two years ago at an imaging center in her town of West Hartford, Conn. 

Unlike the usual lonely waiting room, Newton said the vibe at the party was upbeat and happy, with women getting massages and relaxing in luxury rooms while they waited for their turn. Newton had such a good time that she has since attended two more to lend support to other women.

"It got people who continue to procrastinate," Newton said. "It's mostly about chatting with friends."

Do you need a mammogram? 

In its online resource, A Primer for Women’s Health: Learn About Your Body in 52 Weeks, the National Institutes of Health recommends: 

  • Women in their 40s and older should have mammograms every one or two years.
  • Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their health care provider whether to have mammograms and how often to have them.

How to throw your own mamm party:

  • Contact a local imaging center to find out if they host parties. (You can also ask your doctor for recommendations on a host site.)
  • Be sure to find out the center's policies on insurance.
  • Look for an imaging center that provides party details like food, drinks and invitations.
  • If the center near you doesn't host parties, ask for block scheduling options so you and your friends can go to dinner afterward.
  • In addition to your neighbors or coworkers, include survivors you know who can provide courage and support for women.
  • If you like the experience, consider making it a yearly event.

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