Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Howdy, "Mamm!"

The joys of womanhood are many! Not only do we enjoy monthly mood swings accompanied by our most womanly experience, but we get to birth babies and endure medical examinations beyond our wildest imaginations as well.

Recently, I was introduced to the mammogram. My doctor recommends a baseline test at the age of 35 so our meeting was well overdue. The Breast Center at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis was beautiful, warm, comforting. I felt at home instantly. The staff was kind, which helped ease my anxiety tremendously.

After registering, I disrobed from the waist up, pulled on a gown and waited in a private waiting room. They had two machines running so people moved quickly in and out of the examination rooms. Finally, it was my turn.

As I entered the dimly lit room, a woman greeted me and there… standing before me… was the mammogram machine. She was tall and seemingly powerful, made of steel. Although, I was a bit afraid of her, I admired her for I knew that she had probably saved many lives before me.

Before we could even get acquainted, the technician pulled down one side of my robe and jammed my left breast into the machine. Shocked, I didn’t really know quite what to say. The woman pulled and pushed and maneuvered my breast, forcing it to fit onto the x-ray plate. Scurrying behind a little wall, she shouted, “DON’T BREATHE!” and pushed the x-ray button. Holding my breath, I worried that this monstrous machine was smashing my full & voluptuous breast into a pancake-like form.

“Oh shoot!” the woman said as she reappeared.

“What’s wrong?” I gasped.

“Oh nothing,” she explained. “I just didn’t get the inside part of your breast.”

She proceeded to explain that my breasts were too wide for the x-ray plate. SERIOUSLY? I know a lot of woman with bigger boobs than me. You’d think by now they’d be able to accommodate us all. Perhaps interchangeable plates are in order here. Sized to fit!

Then, suddenly, in one fell swoop, the woman stuck her arm under both of my breasts, lifted them up and placed them in the machine. If one boob didn’t fit in there, how exactly were we going to get TWO in the machine?

“Cleavage shot,” she said.

Ah! That explains it…

Eight shots later, my first date with the mammogram machine was over. I was a little sore on the drive home but the tugging and pushing was well worth it.

Over the last year, a close friend of mine has battled breast cancer. The cancer was discovered during a routine mammogram that she almost didn’t get. EVERY WOMAN SHOULD GET A MAMMOGRAM. They save lives.

A week later, my results came in the mail. And I am free and clear. Until next year… when she and I meet again.

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