You may as well know that I had a mammogram today. I dreaded it. I postponed it. I forgot to make the appointment . . . for about, um, five years.
When I saw my doctor last July, she referred me for a mammogram again, just a routine screening, the kind of thing you’re supposed to do when you are a grown-up. I left the pink slip in the stack of papers on my desk. I didn’t schedule the appointment. I kept telling myself that I needed to do it, but I just did not.
Then a woman I know who is a year or two younger had her routine mammogram a few weeks ago. She was diagnosed with cancer, a rather aggressive cancer, it seems, though who can be sure? She’s going to have surgery, radiation, maybe chemotherapy. I looked at her and told her that I needed to schedule my mammogram. That way I was accountable.
So last week I called and made the appointment.
This morning I showered and remembered not to apply any deodorant.
I arrived on time for my appointment. I stripped to the waist, put on the white cotton robe, read a book while waiting for my turn.
The radiologist was kind, a woman named Marcie, who explained that it would take only four minutes. I stood without speaking, only nodding, wishing it was already over. I’m just not big fan of baring myself to a stranger. I’m modest. I find it awkward.
But it was only awkward for four minutes and it only hurt a little.
I was so happy to be done.
Then this afternoon, the phone rang. It was the Breast Center telling me they need me to come back, that the person reading the mammogram didn’t like the photos, there was something called “blah blah blah” which means “blah blah overlapping blah” and so I have to go back on Friday.
I wish I remembered exactly what she said and had a better idea of what is going on. I think they just want more pictures, better pictures, different positions. Which is just great. Because, of course, that’s exactly how I want to spend Friday morning, appearing topless before a stranger who will manipulate my squishy body parts into a machine and pressing them as pancake-like as possible.
I’m not really afraid. But fear does wave at me from the corners of my mind. Because if my friend can go in for a routine mammogram and end up needing surgery, why wouldn’t I? Do I need to remind anyone that my dad died from cancer when he was 47? And I’m 45? And that I’m a pessimist?
You should know that years ago . . . 18 years ago? 17 years ago? I had a surgical biopsy and “it” was nothing, just a lipoma. At the time I worried that I’d lose my breasts, lose my hair and die because I am dramatic like that.
This time, I’m just mostly annoyed that I have to be awake, in my right mind and at the radiologist at 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning. I just hope this will be the last time I flash The Girls at a perfect stranger for awhile.