There are some sentinel moments in a woman’s aging process that are reason for pause and reflection. The first time you find a grey hair the size of a garden snake in your eyebrows. The moment when you look at your thighs and figure out the quickest route to Florida using all the blue lines. That special day when you you realize that underwire, Spanx and double sided tape are necessary additions to your wardrobe. Every day.
And, of course, your first mammogram.
Now, before I get into the nitty gritty of my experience, I feel it needs to be said that I take breast health seriously. Serious as a heart attack, in fact. Nothing scares me more than the thought of having a diagnosis handed down to me that could potentially inhibit my being on this earth to control my fruit loops’ every move until they are 30. Alright, 40. Nothing stops me in my tracks more than hearing, “….yeah, and she was only 40 when they found it….”. Truly. So, let’s be clear here: I am not at all making fun of the seriousness of breast cancer or the incredible strength it requires to endure a fight for your life.
But, let’s face it: anyone who has had a mammogram will attest to the fact that the process is ridiculous. And embarrassing. And downright funny. Cancer = not funny. Mammograms = hilarious. At least in my head.
Since I am only 39, I thought I had 11 years more to worry about having my boobs squished by the equivalent of a Mack truck tire. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when my doctor encouraged me to get one. Imagine my shock at hearing that I probably need to get one every year from now on. Imagine my protests of “But they are still perky!” and “Hubby thinks they feel just fine!”. I brought my prescription home, put it on my counter and left it there. For when I turned 40. In 357 days.
Enter Amy Robach from GMA. You all know the story. She’s 40. She was given her prescription when she was 39. It sat on her counter. Until she turned 40. When she had her mammogram on live television. And found out she had breast cancer that would have had a better prognosis if she had gone for her mammogram at 39.
Oh, AL-RIGHT, Amy Robach. I’ll go get my mammogram.
So I did. Yesterday.
And, all I can say is this: I’m so glad I didn’t have to do it on national television.
I arrived at my breast health center wearing the highest pair of spike heels I own: blue suede, peep toe heels from Nine West. They make me feel powerful. And they are super cute. And, I figured that if I had to sit around half naked with my tatas on display, I was gonna wear shoes that made people look down rather than at my boobs. Yes, I think of such things. Yes, it’s ridiculous. But damned if all the staff didn’t notice those suckers. Did I mention they are super cute?
After my intake interview and a breast exam that would make a prostitute blush, I was taken to a lounge area to await The Squishing. As I sat there with the other women, all of us sporting hospital gown ponchos, I scanned the room for something to focus on other than my boobs. Magazine? I think I’ll read my issue of “Living With Cancer” on the toilet at home, thank you. Cell phone? Sign says to turn it off. TV? Maybe I’ll just pop in the VHS tape they have right here of Top Gun. Nothing takes your mind off your boobs like fighter jets and Tom Cruise getting it on with Kelly McGillis. Seriously on the VHS? Cutting edge 3D superdy duper technology is one room over and we get VHS? Seems legit.
When it was my turn, me and my blue suede shoes followed the technician into The Squishing Room. After a few pleasantries, we got down to business. Her hands, my boobs, both of us staring at my shoes to avoid the awkward. There were instructions, there were words of encouragement. There was squishing. Very hard squishing.
A word or two about the squishing, if I may.
As I was a newbie to the squishing sitch, I was wholly unaware of how much actual tissue they compress on your body. Basically, they take your boob, your chest muscle, most of your shoulder blade and half of your pancreas and press it down with about 15 lbs of pressure. You are not allowed to Lamaze breathe through the pain and at all times you must “hold very still!”. And then they do it again to your other side. I am fairly convinced that having a Pap smear by Edward Scissorhands is less painful than the oblique view angle. The only thing that kept me lucid and from succumbing to fainting was that I was sure my boob would be ripped off my chest if I became unconscious. And that would have been a hot mess.
After four WWF squishfests, a repeat series of shots on my left side and an ultrasound, I was sent to wait for the radiologist to review my films. I kept picturing the radiologist in a room like an air traffic controller from Top Gun, wearing a headset and directing boob traffic. “Roger Wilco. Boob report received. Maverick is calling the ball, I mean, boob”. I am pretty sure my request for a fly by was denied, “Negative, ghost rider, boob pattern is full”.
After all was said and done, I am happy to report that my tests came back normal. I practically kissed the radiologist full on the mouth and found myself skipping out of the office. Well, as much as one can skip in four inch spike heels but you catch my drift. A relieved phone call to my BFF and me and my blue suede shoes boogied on out of Squishfest 2013. Only 364 days until I have to do it again. But you can bet that this cat will be wearing these blue suede shoes next year…..