When I was in junior high school my school fundraising team was on a flower-gram, candy-gram, friend -o- gram, smoke a gram (kidding) kick. They would take any opportunity to gram something to some one most of the proceeds went to a charity of some sort. I remember my bestie Kelly and I sent each other flower grams and the cards read,"Yes Sir Colonel Sir." It was an inside joke phrase that would dissolve us into tears and to this day I don't know why? I don't even recall where the line came from, but, I bet Kelly does.
I have not had any flower or candy grams sent to me in a long time and then last Wednesday I had the old mammography cherry popped in the form of my first Mammogram. Not quite as fun as receiving candy and or flowers, however, the anticipation leading up to the x-ray is similar.
No, I haven't been having any troubles, I just have a family history that warrants an early screening to determine a base line. I have dreaded having the x-ray taken as my mother and every Canadian woman I know has given me an ear full about how much they hurt and how sore they are afterward.
I have to say it wasn't that bad? I think it's this here American health care system. I pay for my health care and so I get top quality care and and I can sue if there is anything that I feel is out of line and so the professionals are courteous and gentle and they fully explain everything going on until the procedure is done.
This was a total different scenario than when I was sent to Mount Sinai Women's Hospital in Toronto in January of 07 for a breast scan and ultrasound. That procedure was due to a lump I found that was very painful and growing rapidly which is a sign of one form of breast cancer. I didn't wait to see the doctor because when you have a family history you know the consequences of waiting. Then I had to wait 5 weeks for the appointment at Sinai from the day I saw the general practitioner to the day I got to see the specialist. Thank you FREE Canadian health care. It's mostly free but the waits are redonculous. By the time I got the appointment I was not longer in agony and had self diagnosed mastitis. I digress.
My bestie Lucky came with me to this appointment and waited for me to go through the procedure, she also endured all my nervous bad jokes and got up to be at an 8 am appointment with me with only the lure of a free Starbucks as incentive. A grouchy nurse called me into the exam area and asked me to disrobe then sit in another waiting room with several other ladies sitting around in hospital gowns. Some of the women were wearing wigs as a result of chemotherapy's side effect of hair loss and some, like me, were just looking lost. No one explained to me what was going on or what the procedures were and then I was called to the ultrasound. The tech was rough with me and I felt zero compassion. This from another woman. You would expect another women to be gentle and empathetic. Not so much! I was cleared at that appointment of any signs of problems the doctor said I must have had mastitis and left heaving a huge sigh of relief. Lucky and I shopped all day in celebration of health and boarded a plane to Costa Rica the next morning.
So back to the mammogram. I waited under 5 minutes for my appointment and then was greeted by two female radiologists. One was an intern, both introduced them selves to me and then together they proceeded to explain the steps of the mammogram. Then I was asked to disrobe from the waist up, remove my deodorant with a baby wipe and put on a beauty of a seersucker gown, open at the front, which I did in a private little dressing area. When I came out the radiologist put very pretty floral band aids with little metal studs in the centre right over my nipples. Fancy little pasties! I kinda wanted to keep them. I wonder if Martha Stewart designed them? Then I stepped up to the mammography machine and had to stand on a tape line exactly like the ones actors use to hit their marks on a film set. Then they worked together to sandwich my teeny tiny boobie into the machine. I had to pull some contortionist like moves to get the angle right so the machine could hold enough of me to get a full scan. Thank gawd for yoga!
Then we repeated to the other side. The whole time I'm thinking I usually like to get taken out to dinner before I'm groped, but, I refrain from saying so. Our conversation goes off in the direction of the tattoo I have tucked behind my left ear. It's of a cabbage butterfly. "It' s for my mom. My sister and I both have them," I tell the ladies. They like it. It's placement is neat. "Did it hurt to get it there?" "A little spicy," I said and then we were done the left boobie! The worst part of the whole thing was taking the band aides off the nipples.
They said I would hear the results of the mammogram within a week. Three days later - that's right- Saturday's mail - a letter arrived:
My friend Rob Dyer founded Skate for Cancer. He's been skating boarding all around the world spreading cancer prevention awareness. His tag line is: THE CURE IS KNOWLEDGE. Check his site out as there are many links and helpful pages and even a charted self breast exam. DO IT! Feel your self up regularly! Get to know your breasts and if they are not feeling right get your boobies into a doctor and get felt up professionally! Really, it's not so bad. It's really not compared to the alternative.