I have happily gone along for the past ten or so years avoiding getting a mammogram. I had one once, after losing my mother’s aunt and my father’s mother to breast cancer, and I figured no cancer on the planet could be as painful and humiliating as a mammogram. I vowed to do whatever necessary not to have one done again – even if that meant getting the name of Chaz Bono’s doctor.
Well, as you can imagine, Chaz and I don’t travel in the same circles, so it was becoming quite obvious I wasn’t going to run into him, and when my doctor shoved his “it’s breast cancer awareness in here every month” prescription for what should be a yearly mammogram, I figured, what the hell. I had these old boobs lifted last summer, and rarely have a chance to show them off, so why not? And really, could the mammogram be as bad as I remember?
Why yes, it can! But I optimistically left the radiologist’s office thinking it went rather well. I was in and out in just a few minutes; I resisted the urge to belt out a few lines of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” as the technician was squishing and squeezing me into place, and while it was way more painful than I remembered it to be, I was done for at least another year. Go me!
Then the letter came in the mail.
Okay, can I stop here for a second and tell you – if you’d like to casually mention to me that I might possibly have a disease that could potentially kill me, maybe you could text me? Send an email? Gimme a call? Something a little more personal than a letter in the mail.
The letter simply said, “The results of your mammogram indicate the need for further studies. Hope you’re having a nice day!” Okay, I may have made up the nice day part.
Who doesn’t go into a tailspin with that kind of letter?
I called my doctor – the evil doer that made me go for the stupid test – and they didn’t even have the results. And it took two days for them to get them. The surgeon who did my breast lift was quite comforting in informing me the mammogram mishap likely had nothing to do with the surgery he did, but that I shouldn’t worry about what may be just a very routine recheck. Easy for him to say, as he has no boobs that are in need of a recheck.
I opted not to share the news with too many people in advance, knowing that I’d garner way more sympathy when I had some actual news to share, but I did find tremendous reassurances from a few good Moms and my awesome sister. I parceled out in my head all of my most valuable possessions – my Moms Panel pink collection to my closest Moms Panel friends; my children to that awesome sister (to kinda get back at her for all the times she was a pain in my arse when I had to watch her growing up); my husband to his good pal Dr. Veitia; my Disney pin collection to Amy and Anthony.
And today was the follow up testing.
Whew, am I glad that’s over with! I take back everything I ever said about cancer almost being preferable to the pain and humiliation of the mammogram – even though I said it in jest. If I could have told that woman today to squeeze a little harder to make sure she was seeing everything clearly, I would have. And then when they did the ultrasound, it was all I could do to keep from taking the wand out of the woman’s hand to find the damn lump myself!
When all was said and done, I do have a little something in there, but they aren’t going to worry about it at the moment. Their feeling is that it is entirely benign, and really very small. It may be something I’ve had all along, but at this point, it is definitely not something to worry about. At least for another six months.
The sweat and tears that have poured out of my body this week living in the FEAR that something COULD be wrong have given me a renewed appreciation for everything my Sisters battling breast cancer go through. No superhero could be stronger; no warrior tougher; no soldier braver. I’m wearing pink in honor of you guys tomorrow.
Although not Moms Panel pink – that’s already spoken for in my will.