She compared it to a dentist appointment. 

By Maggie O'Neill
October 17, 2019
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Jennifer Garner, who will be forever known as Jenna Rink from 13 Going on 30, shared a really important video Thursday on Instagram for Breast Cancer Awareness Month: a video of herself getting her yearly mammogram.

But sharing such an intimate thing with her 7.4 million followers, isn't the only reason to give a nod to Garner—the 47-year-old actress also provided a great tip that all women can benefit from in remembering to prioritize their yearly exam: to set a date and make it a routine—every year.

“Every October I have a standing date :slight_smile:. For a mammogram :grimacing:," she wrote in her Instagram caption. "For me, having the appointment on the books makes it routine, like the dentist. I know it’s scary, sisters, but just do it.” Garner’s video shows her goofing off during the exam, and you can see her getting the all clear from her doctor at the end of it.

Her post, while silly (in true Jennifer-Garner-on-Instagram fashion), is an excellent reminder of the importance of getting a yearly mammogram—and making a "standing date" for it like Garner only ensures that you won't forget. Also: Garner's right about getting checked every year: The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women ages 45 to 54 get the test done yearly, while, starting at age 55, women can get mammograms every two years. 

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Just in case this year's your first time getting a mammogram (or if you need a gentle reminder of what happens during them), they're relatively simple screening procedures. During a mammogram, you’ll remove your shirt and bra, and your breasts will be x-rayed one at a time.

During the x-rays, a plastic plate will be pressed down on each breast, to flatten them in ordder to spread out tissue so it's easier to find tumors or other signs of breast cancer, according to Planned Parenthood. Will it be uncomfortable? Probably—Garner's face definitely suggests so—but only for a few seconds. The entire mammogram process lasts about 15 minutes, per Planned Parenthood.

After your breasts are x-rayed, a technician will look at the films to make sure they don’t need to be taken again (Just FYI: The technician isn’t checking for signs of cancer—a radiologist will once the technician gives the films the OK). Since the time it takes for a radiologist to report back to a patient varies, per Planned Parenthood, it's wise to consider asking your doctor how long they think it will take to hear back. Planned Parenthood recommends calling your doctor if you have not heard within a month.

Garner makes the (great!) point that getting screened, while uncomfortable, can help you out in the long-term. “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,” she wrote, while adding the hashtag #idonttakemycleartestforgranted. 

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