I just learned that today is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Totally coincidentally, last Thursday was my annual mammogram.
I go to the unfortunately named Faulkner-Sagoff Breast Imaging & Diagnostic Centre in Boston. They have night time hours to keep me from having any excuses for putting the procedure off, which is exactly what I wanted to do at first. Three years ago my primary care doctor ordered the mammogram when I told her I had just turned 40. It's the standard age to start such tests, but I was a bit anxious about the whole subject because my mother and paternal grandmother had both had breast cancer. That grandmother's sister and my maternal grandmother both had stomach cancer that metastasized to the brain, so cancer doesn't so much run as flow in both sides of my family.
Knowing all that, I still didn't want to have the test because basically: I heard they hurt. I told myself that all those cancers happened post-menopausally so hey, I had plenty of time before I had to worry about the "C" word.
Three years ago, for my first one after turning 40, I walked in cracking nervous jokes about the impending torture test. This annoyed the nurse doing the procedure to no end. Maybe she was just cranky after a long day at the Iron Maiden, but she told me what she thought about my flippant remarks. Sighing, she said, "I get so tired of women telling me it's going to hurt when they haven't even had one. It's really not that bad. But every time someone gets all freaked out thinking it's going to hurt it makes my job so much harder." It turns out she was right. It didn't hurt at all. It tugs a little up at the pit area, like the twisty, rubbing feeling of the "Indian rope burns" we used to give as kids.
So after that, every time I heard a friend of mine was going in for their mammogram, I assured them completely that there was absolutely no pain at all and they should have no fear or trepidation going into the procedure. And every one of those women have come back to me and said, "I am going to fucking kill you for lying to me like that!" Yeah, apparently it hurts other women. So, sorry to anyone I may have misled. See, I'm not particularly lucky in the breast department. I have them, I'm not flat-chested. The thing is, I'm flat-boobed. If I'm not wearing a bra they just lie there. They have no natural roundness. Let's put it this way: If nipples were eyes, I could read a newspaper I was standing on. So, I guess if they already look like pancakes, squishing them in a machine has virtually no consequence. Finally, I have a reason for my friends to be envious of my chest for a change!
Yesterday I received in the mail my report from the radiologist: Clean. No cancer detected for the third year in a row. And I have already made my appointment for next year because while these boobs ain't getting any younger or better looking, I sure want them to grow old with me.