It’s cold and gray outside, typical February morning. My appointment is not till 2:30. The waiting is making me anxious! In the shower I frantically start doing a self-breast exam and begin to worry if everything is normal; was that lump there last month? I’m dressed; it’s 12:30 p.m. I run a few errands around town and find myself forgetting simple things like; my cell phone and the coffee on the counter at WaWa. I desperately need some more caffeine. I am starting to sweat and I am not wearing any deodorant. I play around on the computer till 2:05. Time to leave, the wind blows the car door against my shoulder; ouch! I arrive at the Brick Imaging Center at 2:20.
The receptionists’ were extremely polite. Everyone at the center appeared warm with sweet dispositions. I filled out paperwork with a pen in the shape of a rose. More sweetness! Next, I am greeted by my technician; the person who in a few short minutes will be lifting, moving and pressing my breasts onto a plate. I am lead through two curtains to a pseudo dressing room where I undress and re-dress in a poncho split up the front and split slightly higher on the sides. I am glad I wore my “big” jeans for the occasion! Now for the wait….there is two other women in the room with me dressed in pastel capes with pocketbook swung over their arms. After only five minutes I complain out loud to my robed comrades, “Boy, how long do we have to wait in hear”? I realized at that moment it had only been a few minutes. I guess I couldn’t’t stand the silence. I began to get into a good Ladies Home Journal article on cheating spouses when I hear, “Mrs. Riley, come with me”. (Hold on one minute, it dawned on me this is the second time since I’ve arrived I have been called Mrs. Riley, Do they HAVE to keep reminding me of how old I am and that I am here for a mammography!)
The technician could not have been nicer. We talked about hair. She liked my hair cut. I said, “I did not really do anything with it today” (you know, no reason because I was just being checked for CANCER!) Her hair was thin, shoulder length with bad bangs, she said she always had the bangs and was considering growing them out. She wanted the reverse bob like me but did not think it would look good. (As much as I enjoyed talking to her, I’m thinking is it over yet? Are the pictures being taken as we speak? Is there someone else coming into the room to man handle my breasts like raw meatballs in a busy Italian restaurant?) My eyes begin to dart around and I said to the sweet tech, “O.K.”. She must have known I was then ready. The instruction begins, “Swing the right side of the cape over your shoulder please” Miss nice girl with bad hair said. Boob is exposed! Who cares, I have no problem topless. (For some this may be embarrassing and nervousness may set in) I just did not know, since it was my first time, what to do in this position? Do I stand straight, move my breast to the right, and turn sideways? Then the lady gently lays her soft hands on my breast and kneads the tissue (three times; top bottom and side) forward onto the squishy breast plate. The test was a breeze. Two pictures each breast. The first picture is taken head on; first right breast, then left. The pad your breast laid on was soft and warm. Watch out though for your ribcage that leans up against the metal of the machine, that’s chilly, Burr! The clear plastic plate came down on my breast, squishing it like a sandwich. I glanced down and notice numbers 1, 5, 10, 15 on the “breast plate” Mine filled it all the way to the 15! Not bad I thought (like I even knew what these numbers meant). Hurt? No! Weird? Yes! Especially if you look down at your breast tissue and see it in a way that you HAVE NEVER SEEN A BREAST LOOK BEFORE. Not even Picasso himself could masterfully arrange this form.
Back in the waiting room…
I open a Christmas issue of Redbook and WA-LA! A before and after picture of a lady, with thin Blond hair, with the reverse boob (oops, I meant bob, I will leave that slip) I rip out the picture for what’s her name because of the similarity. I am still in my super hero cape! Wait wait wait…, 20 more minutes. “Mrs. Riley”, (I am used to being called by my sur name at this point, “Yess!” “Come with me”. We step into a room and I am barely through the doorway before the nurse says; “Everything is fine, you have healthy breast tissue, we will see you back… (Is she kidding? fine? I went through all of this and I am fine, this is surreal, I was prepared for the worst, hair loss, reconstruction if necessary, buying everything with pink on it, when is the walk?) In 5 years at age 40, 35 is just a base line. Then after the age of 40 it is once a year, O.K.” I respond with a big, “O.K., O.K.”! Yippee, I trot back to the dressing room/waiting room. There was some baby powder I took advantage of since you have to have the test with no deodorant on or perfumes. Dressed, my black Coach bag dusted with powder, I leave the office but not before finding Miss Nice Person to give her the picture of the Redbook Model. She seemed to genuinely appreciate the gesture and said she may just get the nerve to try the new style one day. Then she asked me if I cut hair? “No”, I said.
Off I go…back in my truck I felt dizzy…where am I going? Hey, who cares, I do not have cancer, Thank God! THANK GOD!
Breast Cancer awareness has significantly increased over the past several years. In 2007, 32 million dollars was raised for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Perhaps all this awareness has frightened some women believing; I could have breast cancer. This may or may not be the case. The best detection of this potentially fatal and life changing illness is the Mammogram! So GO! GO every year, DO NOT wait, there is nothing to be worried about; See!
Bridget Riley is the owner of The Pampered Spirit Mobile Massage & Spa Co. Bringing the spa experience to you in the comfort and convenience of your home, office or hotel suite.