Mammograms save lives. The year I was turning forty, my younger sister was diagnosed with an aggressive growing Breast Cancer. Her cancer was diagnosed after she had to fight her doctors for a mammogram, they felt she did not need. I will say it again, mammograms save lives. But they also lend themselves to all manner of humor.
Turning forty, the Great Physician Aetna deemed me age appropriate for a yearly exam. With Carli’s experience fresh in mind, I faced the event with ongoing texts to and from my sisters and best friend, Lori. We, as is our tendency, were making light of the situation. When taken into the dressing room and handed my hospital gown, I quickly noticed it had three arm holes. Such a thing as a three arm-holed gown was new to me. Given the reason for my visit, I ended up in fits of laughter thinking of ways to utilize that third armhole for my given diagnostic test. I was laughing so hard I was doubled over, tears running down my face. I am sure the ladies in the waiting area thought I had lost my mind. After a few quick modeling poses and a quick text with pics to my sisters, I was dressed in my gown, utilizing the armholes as intended and ready to wait my turn.
As the texts continued to ease my tension, Lori shared how a friend of hers, a medical tech, had shared with her the strangest things that had happened as she conducted mammograms. The winner had to do with a large chested woman and a misplaced Cheeto. As is the practice within a mammogram, the tech helped to lift the breast onto the plate. This particular day, the plate also got a side of Cheeto. The crunchy, orange-powdered treat had tucked itself away for safe keeping and during the lift, well it escaped.
There are many ways one might prepare themselves for the mammogram experience including, but not limited to, smashing your chest in a closing freezer door four or five times, having your children tap dance in steel toed boots on your chest for the duration of the birthday song, or taking one of the most sensitive areas of your body and fitting it between the panels of your garage door as it is closing. But once you arrive for your exam, the awkward choreography of making sure all extra body fat, your hair and the breath in your lungs are not going to tarnish your pictures, will prevent you from considering the pressure of that which is three dimensional being coaxed into becoming two dimensional. When your tech tells you to hold your breath, be sure to smile pretty and say “Squeeze!”
While not the most comfortable experience in the world, it is over quickly. Any discomfort is relieved knowing early detection saves lives. During this year’s exam, I was able to be seen and was out in less than 30 minutes. If you are over forty, mammograms should be an annual part of your preventative health routine. If you are of any age and you fill a lump or notice changes in your body, be an advocate for your own health. Don’t take no for an answer if you know something is not right.
For more information and to find free/low cost mammograms see: