Yesterday I got my very first mammograms – at the age of 34.
And it was stressful.
While I was in the waiting room, anxiously pacing back and forth for my name to be called, I very maturely texted a friend of mine a photo of testicles from The Worlds Largest Pig – taken the day before – at the Indiana State Fair (this is the thanks they get for giving someone like me an unlimited press pass).
Crusty pig ball – not my finest moment, but not my worst. I was nervous and I needed comic relief to pass the minutes. I blame stress so something.
But yesterday – I got my very first mammogram. I’m 34 years old.
Why so young? Of course I have reasons…
Your doctor will tell you that you don’t need a mammogram until the age of 40. And your doctor is completely right – 40 is the money age. If you’re over the age of 40? Smash those boobies.
But I’m 34, and I have a history – on both sides of my family.
And about a month ago, I started having deep tissue pain in my right breast. And then on my left as well. Normally, weird aches and pains don’t bother me, but given my deep rooted breast cancer history, this mystery pain was a cause for concern.
Have you ever thought about how it would all end for you? You know, how you would die?
Yeah, I have. It’s almost always from breast cancer. I die early, like when my kids are little. So when I started to have pain in my breast, I basically knew it was the beginning of the end. This is morbid, but this is my truth.
I’ve been thinking about my kids, and how they would be loved and cared for. I’ve been thinking about Michael, and how he would deal with having a sick wife.
And yesterday, I had the mammogram, to determine the root of the pain.
The tech took me into a back room, had me un-robe from the waist up, and prompted me for a round of xrays.
She took a bunch of images, and sent me back into my private waiting room. She would show the images to the radiologist, and if the radiologist needed more images, she would call me back in.
And as I sat there in the little private waiting room, I wonder about all the other women that sat topless before me. About how many prayers had been sent up from this very spot, pleading and begging for a clean bill of health. Countless daily, assuming I wasn’t the only one.
And as I sat there praying for my own clean bill of health, I was called back – for more photos. Expected but not good news. The radiologist wanted more images, different angles – a more in-depth view of the breast tissue.
Was this a surprise to me? Nope. Not at all. In fact, I was woefully expecting it.
And if I can offer any advice to first mammogramer -
1. Don’t be modest. Figure it’s the college Spring Break you never experienced. Live it up silently with wild abandonment, and then treat yourself to a coffee or something special when you’re done. Me? I spent the afternoon cleaning out the freezer. What?
2. Skip the deodorant. Most mainstream deodorants have iron in them, and that shows up as “particles” on the xrays which is a bad thing. If you know you’re getting a mammogram, suck it up and stink for a few hours.
3. If you have long hair, tie it back. I have long-ish hair, and my tech was constantly messing with my mane, pulling rouge strands out of the xray. Had I known, a top knot bun or ponytail it would have been.
But I didn’t know, it was my first mammogram.
So I walked in for round two, and the tech assured me that it was because I was so young and my tissue was so – dense? active? plump? full? alive? (I’m forgetting the word she used, it was a weird compliment for sure) and that that was the reason for the “round two” images.
She took the second round, and then again sent me topless into my private little cell of a waiting room.
More pleading and prayers to God. More rounds of Candy Crush on my cell phone to pass the time. Friends, Candy Crush is nauseating in times of high anxiety. Prayer was much better, and I had run out of friends to “ball” at such an early hour of the day.
To cut this story short – after much he-hawing from my doctors (or at least that’s what it felt like they were doing, hee-hawing around), I’ve been given a clean bill of health.
According to my mammogram – stuff is dense, but there is no sign of caner.
I do not have breast cancer. Or anything that look like breast cancer.
But let’s not forget the reason I got my mammogram in the first place – pain in my right breast.
The radiologist told me it could be a myriad of culprits.
1. My hormones adjusting from basically being either pregnant or breastfeeding for the past decade. Valid point. Checkmate.
2. Wearing the wrong bra. So is the doctor implying that the bra I bought postpartum almost 4 years ago after Gage’s birth not good enough anymore? I think that’s what she’s saying…
So I’m off to do a bit of wait-and-see. I’ve been told I don’t have cancer, and maybe I need to invest in a new brazier.
But for today, I don’t have cancer. And I need to go shopping.
I’m counting it as a win.
And yes, if you’re wondering – I would totally not hesitate for one single second to go all angelina jolie on my rack. As they say – first set is for function (did that x4), second set is for show – or something like that. I’ll do whatever it takes to be here for the long haul.