“I can handle it. I’ve got it under control.” We are a nation of Stoics.
I went for a mammogram on Friday. Another name for this [and excuse my French] is squeeze-the-hell-out-of-my-breasts.
I have fibrocystic breasts plus fibromyalgia so the STHOOMB’s is @#%# painful. I know this going in so I just channel my inner male and “man up.” [Can we woman up? I think we should have that in our lexical phrase books. After all we carry for nine months, and then deliver, a baby. Or in my case two babies, and let me tell you it is not a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. More about that in a different blog.]
Besides a mammogram being painful, or uncomfortable at best, they make you take off all your upper clothes and then give you a “gown” that is basically two or three Kleenexes
glued together. Doesn’t cover much, let me tell you. I may as well have been wearing pasties. I would have felt better. I could wear pasties with a tassel on each one and at least pretend I was having fun. Channeling my inner pole dancer…if I have one. Haven’t discovered her yet but you never know. Maybe she’ll surface when I’m ninety. Watch out world. However, that said, for a sixty-some overweight woman I have pretty nice girls. They don’t hang down to my knees. Unlike their owner they still have core strength.
So, anyway, having given you the Kleenex “gown,” as soon as you’re in the STHOOMB room with the medieval torture machine looming over you they tell you to take off your Kleenexes. Why did we bother with them anyway? The little changing room [you know the kind with a curtain that always gaps open a few inches] is right across the hall, so I could have simply “streaked” across the three foot wide hallway.
So I long ago decided I would not be embarrassed or bashful of my nakedness, and I simply chucked the paper thingy and “strut my stuff.” Then of course you not only have to be squeezed to $%%# you get to be manhandled [fortunately I have always had female techs so I guess it would be woman-handled. Once again our lexicon lets us down.] So it’s, “Lean forward a little, I just have to stretch it a bit.” [Read twist and stretch a lot]. “No, let’s do that again. Just a little more stretch [read twist and mangle]. Okay, now hold still.” So, finally, having shoved and stretched and twisted my girls to heck and back I finally get to put my “gown” back on and go get dressed.
Whew, that’s over for the next, what year? Or I think they’re saying we only have to get it once every two years now, unless we have a family or personal history of cancer.
But you know what? I’d rather have the crap squeezed out of my breasts than risk getting cancer. And all that brings me to my point. Life is like a mammogram in many ways. It’s better to go through whatever discomfort or even pain it takes to prevent something far worse. For instance, going for counseling if you’re struggling with something, whether it’s an addiction, or anger issues [as I had, ie, the anger] or secret pain because of past sexual trauma. There are a whole host of things that we try to stuff down or cover [usually with something like my mammogram “gown”]. We so often think we can handle something alone, or we’ve got it under control. Newsflash—in our lives we have very little under our control. We need to give it to God and go talk to someone. Ever bruise yourself and it hurts like heck but on your skin there’s nothing to see? Inner pain or anger, shame, self-hate, etc is like that. On the surface there’s nothing to see but if someone accidentally touches or bumps it we react. And our reactions aren’t pretty. There have been a number of times in my life when I’ve had to ask for help, go for counseling, and/or prayer and/or some kind of medication to help me through.
God is our refuge and strength, very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Psalm 46:1-2
As a post-script I’ll mention this; I was going to post a chart for Breast Self Examination but I discovered it’s no longer recommended here in Canada. The rationale being; 1. We lay people aren’t skilled enough to really tell what’s going on in our breasts. 2. It “alienates” us from our breasts, making us feel anxious and looking for something wrong when we touch them. 3. Most questionable changes in women’s breasts are noticed accidentally while showering. From Canadian Women’s Health Network website
The upshot of all this, so far, is that BSE has become controversial. I personally have never done it regularly because I have fibrocystic breasts, meaning there are always lumps and bumps palpable in the tissues.
In the USA BSE is still recommended see here
Mammography is the most effective means for finding possible cancer. Here are the current Canadian recommendations. Age 40 to 49; Discuss with your doctor about your risks for breast cancer and need for mammography. Age 50 to 69 we are recommended to get a mammogram once every two years. Age 70+ discuss with doctor. From Canadian Cancer Website
In the USA women 40 and older are recommended to have a mammogram once every 1 to 2 years depending on what your doctor says. Women younger than 40 –at your doctor’s recommendation. From National Breast Cancer Foundation
I’d love to hear your comments