Yes, I went there and endured that.

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.

9 thoughts on “Yes, I went there and endured that.

  1. Mel, I believe most people end up with a recheck after their first scan because they have to establish what’s “normal” for you. Try not to worry too much. 😉


  2. I had the same thing happen, Mel, when I switched from Kaiser to another health insurance. I had to go to an outside facility to have it done. The very next morning they called me at work and told me I had to come in RIGHT NOW to have another mammogram. Talk about freaking me out! But I went and had several more images taken…they scrutinized them with the radiologist…and I was given the OK. It seems the breast tissue in one of my breasts is much denser than the tissue in the other one. And ever since then, now that they have previous ones to compare them to, I go in and out in the 4 minutes. Like Shelly said, don’t worry too much. I’d rather have them be TOO thorough than not thorough enough. But I’ll definitely be keeping you in my prayers. Please update us.


  3. Once upon a time, I, too, had a mammogram; only to be called back in for a repeat. I remember the fear…..why do I go there? Fear…worry…reminds me of an old poem: “Worry. Why worry? What can worry do? It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you. It gives you indigestion and wakeful hours at night, and fills with gloom the days, however fair and bright. It puts a frown upon the face and sharpness in the tone. We’re unfit to live with others, and unfit to live alone. Worry. Why worry? What can worry do? It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you.” I won’t even mention how I worried when, just days after I had lost my mom, I discovered a lump while showering… Talk about feeling like my life was ending, too! (But I said I won’t even mention that!!!) (p.s. It was nothing) Glad I could cheer you up – no thanks necessary!


  4. I had to go in for a recheck, too, and it was fine. They were just trying to find my ‘baseline’ for future mammos. I need to schedule mine for this year and I keep putting it off, mainly because I have so many other things on my to do list. Weak excuse, I know.


  5. as I type this know I’m 6 mths overdue on mine. I have had surgery on the right (way upper portion) in fact I didn’t consider it my boob at all but rather part of my shoulder. I have had needle biospy on the left (what a process!)

    I am so very glad you have gone and look forward to hearing the good results.

    Now don’t wait so long to do this again. And I mean it!


  6. I, too, was recalled. I think everyone I know has been at some point. I’ll just say “ditto” to the above comments, and add that in the grand scheme a few minutes of topless-ness in front of another woman who does this all day long for a living is a small exchange for peace of mind!


  7. Mel,

    I understand your feeling uncomfortable. I too am very modest as well as a bit claustrophobic when people hang all over me. When I was pregnant with my 4th child I had a lump in my breast. The dr sent me to get a mammogram and then that dr wanted a biopsy because they didn’t like it. I had to wait all weekend for the results and I honestly think it was one of the longest weeks of my life. I was scared of what could become of it all, scared of dying, scared that my child would be affected since I was pregnant not to mention the 3 children that were already born and growing up. Everything turned out ok but it is something I think about when others say they got a mammogram or a biopsy. I understand the fears that come along with it. It can paralyze you if you allow it.

    I hope that all turns out well for you but also for the friend you mentioned. You told me once in a email that God was a God of love. I want to remind you of that.

    Ouida Gabriel


  8. I hope all is well with the girls. . .I’m overdue for my check up. I had a baseline done about 3 years ago after my aunt was diagnosed so even though it hurts my small dense friends I need to take care of myself, thanks for the reminder.


  9. It says “Speak Your Mind”, so I don’t mind if I do 🙂 Not having a mammogram is irresponsible and ignorant. Schedule one every single year in your birthday month. Same goes for a physical exam including a pap-test. Same month. It’s very easy to remember it that way. No one — NO ONE — enjoys doing with test…but to not do it is ridiculous and selfish. So be mature and responsible! 🙂


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