Sockpants and Super Heroes: Mammograms
Having your first mammogram is like having your first baby. Your only experience to draw from is the countless horror stories that the matriarchs in your life have shared with you. To my pleasant surprise, my mammogram was a breeze. I was in and out in 15 minutes and had zero discomfort. With that yearly chore behind me, I went about the rest of my week in usual fashion until I received a call from the imaging clinic requesting a follow-up appointment. The scheduling assistant was upbeat and explained that since it was my first mammogram, they would like additional pictures to establish a baseline.
Feeling confident that the second appointment was no big deal, I arrived for my mammogram with my two youngest children in tow with plans to grab donuts and hit the park when we finished. As the kids and I were shown to my changing room, Caleb asks, “Why can’t we just get donuts?” Casually I explain, “Well, once women get to a certain age they need pictures taken of their breasts to make sure there’s no cancer.” Fake gagging, he says, “That’s disgusting.”
I put on the radiology gown, told the kids to sit tight and went across the hall for my photoshoot. Looking at the machine, I realize it was different than the one from my first visit. The tech explained, “This machine does 3D mammography. We have to use this machine to get a better picture of the mass in your right breast. Once you’re done here we’ll send you down the hall for the ultrasound to get a better idea as to whether it’s a cyst or a tissue mass. Then the doctor will meet with you.” An alarm bell rings in my head, “Wait. What? I actually have a lump?”
I head back across the hall to sit with the kids until they call me for my ultrasound. Sensing a change in my demeanor, my daughter says with worry, “Is something wrong, mommy?” With my mind in a fog I tell her, “Let’s hope not. They just want to check something.” My son crosses his arms over his chest angrily, “Well they better hurry. My eye balls are melting from these boobie pictures hanging on the wall. I just want a donut.” Upset, my daughter angrily shouts, “Shut up, Caleb! Mom’s probably got cancer in her boob. They’ll have to cut if off and then she’ll have no boobs at all!” Snapping out of the fog, I cover both of their mouths with my hands and growl in my fiercest mom voice, “Listen! Mommy does not have cancer and no one is cutting off my boob. Now be quiet or neither one of you will get a donut!”
I’m relatively certain that the commotion from my dressing room motivated people to get me and my delightful children out of their clinic as fast as possible. Within minutes I was having my ultrasound and was told that the lump was merely a large cyst. The doctor asks me if it causes me much discomfort. I scoffed, “Until ten minutes ago, I didn’t even know it was there.” He looked at me wide-eyed, “You didn’t find that lump on your own? You must not be doing regular breast exams.” My cheeks turned hot as I shook my head. “Holly, one-third of the women diagnosed with breast cancer are in your age group. Monthly breast exams are a must. And if that cyst becomes much larger, we may want to consider removing some of the fluid.” Shaking my head fiercely, “No, thank you. I don’t have much to start with. If you drain it, I might not have a right breast.” Laughing, he walks me back to my dressing room. “That’s fine. Just remember it’s important for you to have yearly mammograms.”
As I changed back to my street clothes, I happily report to the kids, “False alarm. I’m just fine. Who’s ready for donuts?” Kelly jumps up and down excitedly while Caleb sits in his chair with an angry scowl, “Great! That guy saw your naked boobie. Now you’re gonna have to marry him. Why couldn’t we have just gone to eat donuts?” Assuring him that a wedding wasn’t in my future, I left the imaging clinic feeling like I had just learned a valuable lesson. Monthly self-breast exams are no joking matter especially if I plan to enjoy many more adventures of Sockpants and Super Heroes.