A good friend of The Pink Cart wrote to us a couple of weeks ago wanting to share something with The Pink Cart community. She wanted it to be something valuable and something people could relate to. After talking for a while, and hearing the story of her first mammogram, we both thought that would be a great thing to share. For those who have gone through it, it could be a trip down memory lane or it could reveal how the process may have changed over the years. For those women who have not yet had a mammogram, it could open the door to discuss it with their doctors, or lessen the fear of the unknown. So, here is her story under her pen name, 'Betsy'.
I’ve been a Facebook Friend of the Pink Cart for quite awhile now, I support breast cancer awareness whenever possible. I’ve seen two good friends fight breast cancer and win. I’ve never had firsthand “experience” however with what women face – or can face – until last month. My story has a happy ending thus far, so now I find humor in my experience. I’m not yet 40 years old, so I’ve not been sent for a mammogram as part of my recommended screenings. But from my friends’ experiences and what I see more and more around me, I have been thinking “Hmm, maybe I need to go for a mammogram now anyway?” But it wasn’t until a scare with an odd symptom a few weeks back that I actually took the plunge…
Walking into a “Breast Cancer Center” is, first off, rather intimidating. Beautiful facility, wonderful people. As I sat in the waiting area, I looked around at women waiting just like me thinking “Wow, I wonder…” – they didn’t look nervous or scared, made me toughen up even though I was shaking a little in my boots. After a few “manual” exams (and nobody even bought me a drink- ok, so I bet they hear that stale old joke a lot in the office), I was sent over for the actual mammogram. It was like a whole new world in the “staging area”; all types of women sitting around braless in the private waiting area, watching the Today Show, sipping tea in our little tie front cotton tops. After getting called back for yet another rigorous manual exam (but I appreciated the thoroughness), I was sent back to the “tea and Today show room” to wait for the actual mammogram. I was a little nervous - first for the “not knowing” of what could be made very clear very soon, and secondly for the “discomfort” of the big squeeze. Another lovely woman called me back to the mammogram room. It was very odd to have a woman disrobe me, lift my breast, position it, reposition my arm, shoulder, head etc. into a contraption. I actually found it humorous, only because it was so awkward, but so “not awkward” at the same time; and I didn’t know my breast could be flattened to that extent. At that point, I would have stood on my head naked for this nice woman if it got me closer to knowing I was cancer free. After six “compressions” for the x-rays (four originally, plus two more to make sure a “dense area” was nothing to worry about), I was relieved to be told “you are fine, come back when you are 40 or if you have any other problems.” All in all, this felt like a rite of passage into womanhood and a reality check of how breast cancer impacts all of our lives- if not directly, then by having the knowledge of how vigilant we all must be.