A Mammary Tale

Yes, I did have my mammogram today! How can you tell?

Today I went for my first mammogram. Yay, me!

I felt nervous as I drove closer to the hospital. I knew going in to this appointment, this was just routine for my age. I also knew that there is no history of breast cancer in my family, no history of cancer at all really. I will likely die of heart disease or Alzheimer’s as both are more popular versions of health issues running rampant in my family. However, the thought of checking for breast cancer, being close to people who could likely have breast cancer – this scared me.

I sat in the waiting room well, waiting, when they called my name. I expected to be brought into an examination room, like I’m used to at my typical office visits. But, instead I was brought into another waiting room where I was offered a lovely pink tie-gown that could have fit me and the five other women in the waiting room together. After removing my undergarments and wrapping myself into my shirt-blanket I sat nervously chewing my gum –  like cattle waiting for the slaughter.

As I glanced around me and my pink-shirted sisterhood I noticed the face of a young girl, no more than 15 or 16. What was she doing here so young? We quickly met eyes for the briefest of moments as I saw fear enter her eyes. A tingle shuddered through me. No matter how nervous I was, whatever brought this girl here so young must make her all the more so. I smiled, she quickly began texting ferociously.

I then glanced to my pink-shirted partner at my right. An older woman nervously knitting her worries away. Was she an old pro at this sort of thing?

As I was creating a story in my head of everyone here in the room with me, a woman entered our little gathering and proclaimed, Thank G-d! I’m fine!

We all smiled in unison and one woman even cheered. She could be any of us in that room and we all breathed a collective nervous sigh. Finally they called my name again. I glanced carefully at my robe ensuring none of my girls peeked out to say hello, knowing full well that in less than five minutes all would be bared to the world anyway.

My tech explained to me that they would disrobe me, carefully and gently place my right breast into a machine that I liken to a belgian waffle maker, where they will then apply gentle, but firm  pressure on my breast. I winced at the oxymoron of a gentle, yet firm anything to do with my body parts. As the waffle maker encased and then flattened my already smallish breasts into now a severe pancake I winced at the pressure. When does gentle arrive?

After both sides were significantly smooshed into my waffle machine they then turned me to the side where they can then angle me at an even odder pose. Somehow, someway they manipulated my arms, breast and armpit into a contorted position no human should ever need to stand, as the waffle maker once again closed down. This time, I was reminded of the early days of breastfeeding when a thousand needles feel as though they are piercing my nipple. Just when I thought I could handle no more, she announced “…and we’re done!”

“Not so bad.” I announced. Liar.

Just as I re-robed in my hefty pink shirt the technician announced that this being my first time and all, she did not really know my breasts well enough and they may need to call me back for a get together again. The least she could do is buy me coffee before getting to really know my breasts, I joked. She however, did not find this funny.

As I walked into the rewaiting/changing area I glanced around for my teenage friend. She was no longer in the room and I wondered if she was okay. I quickly changed back into my clothing all too happy to throw my humpty dumpty shirt into the ‘soiled’ bin. I had not actually soiled my shirt and wondered why they called it that odd name. Wasn’t ‘used’ sufficient?

As I left the building I was proud that it only took me four months to make my mammogram appointment and twice to cancel and only now to follow through. It truly wasn’t as bad as I thought. I look forward to the piece of mind it will hopefully offer. Now that I got mine, did you get yours?