I have been dreading this day since I was ten years old. I distinctly remember the conversation and have played it over and over in my head. I don’t know why I found it so disturbing or why it has hung with me all this time, but it has.
We were driving in the family car, an early 1970’s green (I mean really green) Volkswagen Rabbit.
My mom was driving and my sister and I were in the backseat. The pleather seats were a lovely shade of dark brown and had a small waffle texture that would imprint onto your legs if your shorts were short enough. I can visualize the stretch of road we were on; Kennedy’s Lagoon was on our left and on our right was a grassy, sloping hill that gradually gave way to clusters of windblown evergreens. My mom was about the same age that I am today and had just had a mammogram, one of her first, if not the first.
Perhaps it was because I was a rather naive child or maybe it was my tendency to be more of a tom boy or maybe kids those days didn’t know of such things, whatever the reason, I had never until that moment, heard of a mammogram. I listened in growing horror as my mom told us about it, prodded for more and more details by my analytical older sister. She told of cold metal plates that smooshed your breasts down into pancakes, first one and then the other. She talked of how embarrassing it was and how painful. She told us that we would one day have to have one. I was appalled. How could woman all over the country be subjected to such a barbaric sounding procedure? Not to mention the embarrassment factor. My ten year old mind was reeling.
Ever since that conversation I have hoped for great medical advances in the area of mammograms. The time for such great advances has come and gone. Due to the prevalence of breast cancer in my family, this year my OB recommended I get one to use “as a baseline.” You think this would be no big deal for someone who has been through both an emergency c-section and a natural, no drugs please, childbirth. But you would be wrong. I am pretty freaked out about it.
So today is the day I will finally have to face this long held fear of mine. It can’t be nearly as bad as I think it will be, right? And I don’t even want to think of the possibility of receiving the test results no one wants to get…