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A deeper look at routine breast cancer screenings for women

At 40 years old, it's highly encouraged to receive your first mammogram. These routine screenings seem intimidating, but can help save the lives of countless women.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — There are a lot of emotions involved when receiving both your first mammogram, and each routine breast cancer screening thereafter.

The process can be stressful, but we didn't have to go far to find the perfect patient. We followed our very own Ebony "Ebbie" Kendrick on her journey as she received her first screening.

"I'm probably more anxious than anything else, so there's a whirlwind of emotions on the inside but I'm still trying to be real cool on the outside. I hope I'm going to be okay," Ebbie said.

Ebbie couldn't imagine the day would come where she would need to get her first mammogram. That's because until her 40th birthday this year, being old enough to need a mammogram seemed a lifetime away.

She checked in for her very first screening at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, where she admits feeling a mixture of emotions.

"It's easy to kind of put my head in the sand and not really acknowledge that I'm at this point in life that I actually need to do this. But, at the same time I realize it's important," Ebbie said.

Despite normal fears that something might be found during the screening, Ebbie said her decision to go through with it goes beyond just herself and that she had good reason for taking the leap of faith.

"I have a daughter and so I want to know what the other end of life looks like," Ebbie said. "Eventually she'll get married, she'll have kids of her own, and I want to be here for that. I don't want to put myself in a position ultimately that I won't be [here] because I'm walking around with breast cancer I never knew about because I wasn't brave enough to go and have my mammogram," she said.

The screening lasted roughly 15-minutes. When it was over, Ebbie and her mother waited to learn the results-- something that the Rockefeller Cancer Institute offers the very same day.

Soon after. Dr. Gwendolyn Bryant-Smith arrived and delivered the news to Ebbie and her mom.

"Everything looks good on your mammogram. Nothing suspicious, you get to come back in a year," Dr. Bryant-Smith shared with Ebbie.

Just like that, a simple but comprehensive exam that many women tend to avoid, is complete.

We checked in with Ebbie after the good news where she shared that she was feeling "super relieved."

"I was blessed today because I didn't have to wait. A few minutes after having my mammogram done, I got to see a calm face and a reassuring face that said, 'I'm fine,' and that was priceless," she said.

So following her experience with a screening that's paramount to so many women, we still had one final question for Ebbie. Now that she's conquered the fear of the unknown, what would be her best advice to other women who still have to climb this [breast cancer screening] mountain?

"Don't wait, no reason to. That was painless, awkward at times, but well worth it. I now have peace of mind," Ebbie said.

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