Saving the TA-TA’s

August 12, 2008

A few months ago, a friend and coworker lost her battle after her third recurrence of breast cancer.  She was a wife, mother, foster parent, and committed Christian.  I don’t know the history of her disease since she rarely talked about it in any detail at all.  I do know that some types of cancer are more aggressive than others.  And, like most of you, I know that the earlier you catch any kind of cancer, the better chance you have.  What I didn’t know was that 1 out of every 8 of us ladies will get some form of breast cancer in our lifetime.  Really, I didn’t know that the numbers were so high until I read a brochure in the mammogram office today.   

I scheduled an overdue mammogram at a new center after seeing the ramifications of the disease in my friend’s life.  I have been way too casual about going well past the yearly requirement.  This is my story of taking more responsibility for myself.  it should be read with a sense of humor!

First of all, the staff didn’t seem to know that this was any big deal.  I arrived at 8:23 for an 8:30 appointment.  After all, don’t you normally go a little early for paperwork?  Apparently not.  The lights were on, but the door was locked.  I knocked several times.  At 8:31, a young woman came to the door (I could see her through the sidelights) in answer, I thought, to my knock.  She inserted a key, unlocked the door and scrurried back quickly to get behind the reception glass!  I guess I thought that she would actually open the door after leaving me knocking for seven minutes.  Silly me.  Okay, so I got over it.  At least, I thought, she’s just the receptionist.  It could be worse, she could be doing my mammogram. 

Guess what? No, I’m not kidding.   

Okay, so I hear the spiel about undressing from the waist up, putting on the gown so it opens in the front, and wiping off any deodorant.  I’m not excited.  After all, who wants to go have their boobs squashed flat?  Of course it was really fun when she helped me position myself by handling the girls like they were an uncooked meatloaf that she could shape to her desire. (Note to my dear one, the techniques are not to be emulated….) Then, before each of the four films to be made, she would say “Hold your breath.”   I’m pretty sure I set some sort of breath-holding record since I started as soon as she lowered the top plate using the “squash it like a pancake” setting.  The pain caused me to do it automatically.  What can I say.  Unfortunately, I’m not an “A” cup!  But, apparently can hold my breath for quite awhile.  I wonder if that’s an Olympic event???

I had to wait a couple of minutes while she made sure the films were adequate.  That was when I got the entertainment part of the visit.  Someone in the office was thoughtful enough to make fun of a patient’s phone conversation with them at the top of their lungs.  That allowed me, down the hall and behind a closed door, to hear it without straining.  The woman imitated a very country dialect and mocked the woman’s ignorance.  I now know how long it was since HER last mammogram.  So much for HIPPA.  And yes, I did say something to my receptionist/mammographer when she returned.  “OH, my….” was her reply.   I’m thinking about going to a different office next year….

In the long run, I was in and out in about 15 minutes.  Wow!  Fifteen minutes once a year, and only five of those minutes are actually uncomfortable.  Fifteen minutes and a procedure that could save my life.  Ladies, if you are over forty OR have a family history of breast cancer, have you had your annual mammogram? 

 Proverbs 18:9 Amplified Version  ….he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide.