Disclaimer: This post is about the ta tas, my friends, so be warned. But, don’t worry, I’m keeping it PG (or PG-13).
I had a mammogram the other day. A mammogram. Thankfully, no reason except I’m 40. 40, my peeps. Yep, that’s me. (OK, small digression into my age–had to do it.)
This is what I have to say about having a mammogram: it was, well, weird. Haven’t had one? Read on. The rest of you can read on, too.
For those who don’t know, a mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that is used to check for breast cancer. According to cancer.gov, “results from randomized clinical trials and other studies show that screening mammography can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 and 74.” So, as weird as I think it was, it’s a good and helpful tool to keep women healthy. Which I am all for.
But, as far as tests go, it’s the strangest that I’ve gone through. You essentially squash your breast in a machine, sort of in between a metal platform (at boob level) and a plastic (at least I think it was) flat piece that moves down to (essentially) trap the ta ta in place. The technician takes four pictures (two different angles of each breast). It’s a little uncomfortable, but really not bad. (I compare all discomfort and pain to birthing two children; pretty much everything is not that bad as a result.) The technician was super friendly and sympathetic to how odd the whole thing was. She even laughed at my very not-funny-but-said-to-distract-from-the-machine-mushing-my-breasts jokes. She had to take one photo twice because I had a “fold” in my picture. I got to see the x-rays; I could see the muscles, glands, and fat (not enough fat in this particular area, alas).
It’s a remarkably efficient process; in fact, it took longer to drive to the office than it did for the exam. I didn’t even have a copay. Just hello, nice to meet you, here am I topless, take some pictures of my bosoms. And, it made me realize two very important things:
1. Disregard the discomfort (emotional and physical). Screening saves lives. I know too many people who had or have breast cancer. Catching cancer early can make all the difference.
2. I am grateful. I am grateful to have health coverage. I am grateful to have a good doctor who recommended I get screened. I am grateful to work at an organization where I could leave early to go to my appointment. For those who don’t have these, cancer.gov provides resources to get breast and cervical cancer screening at low or no cost.
Additionally, the mammogram caused me to reflect on how I felt about my breasts. I had never really thought much about them until my children came along and I took up breastfeeding. Then, they had this truly amazing role: they nourished these little creatures I had miraculously and mysteriously created. (Mysterious because how did I know how to make a pancreas? Esophagus? Liver?) Those breasts had a purpose far beyond me. So, the mammogram, no matter how weird, was rather empowering. I was me taking care of me, doing the right thing for my health, my body. And, that can be lifesaving.
PS: Why a picture of Venus de Milo? You didn’t think I was going to share a photo of my breasts, did you?