” You know you’re getting old when everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.”
It’s one of those rites of passage. Particularly for me, since we have a pretty significant run of cancer survivors in my family.
So this morning, I headed off to my first mammogram.
I remember when I was younger wondering what the big deal was. We all get sick and die someday, right? I saw cancer as just another one of those things that happen. It didn’t really frighten me. Modern science and regular check-ups should prevent any agonizing, drawn-out, apt-to-fail diagnoses and treatments, right?
Notice there are a lot of “right?”s there. Yes, I am looking for some reassurance, now.
Watching Ray Donovan last night and the dialogue between Ray and his wife, who has been diagnosed with “stage 0” breast cancer (who knew there was such a thing . . .is there such a thing?), I actually felt a dip in my stomach. I mean, he kisses her tenderly ,so maybe it was my small man crush on Liev Schreiber. But there was also something else that affected me this time: fear. It’s that fear of loss, watching someone you love deteriorate. Being the one who deteriorates.
So, initially I felt like it was no big deal. I’m healthy. As women, we get poked and prodded by doctors pretty regularly. I’ve endured the pains of childbirth, the invasive pap smears, the blood drawings . . .
But as the appointment drew closer, I got a little nervous. Given my family history, it was more likely than not that something could be hiding, waiting to deteriorate me.
Didn’t help that as I was crossing the street to the clinic that a church flier blew up and stuck to my leg (it’s been many years since my last confession). Also not helping was the uncomfortable silence in the wait room, since I was the only one in there, and not even the obligatory jazz music was playing.
The staff seemed nice, but they used that ultra-soft comforting kind of voice meaning very well to calm my nerves, and failing at every turn.
Then, filling out the form, I actually started to feel better. I only had that to fill in one box that stated that my mother’s sister had breast cancer, indicating my risk. That’s not so bad, right?
Until lovely Nurse Sharon probed a little deeper. And I started adding names: my dad’s sister, my great aunt, my great-grandmother. . .
The part I had the least issue with, the boob squishing, was less invasive than I thought. The woman had obviously squooshed her fair share. Heck, halfway through, I didn’t even bother to cover up at all, since she was bound to feel me up another few times, and we had already hit second base.
Although, can I say, given all of today’s advances in medicine: surely, surely, there must be a less uncomfortable way? It’s like the dentist and those damn x-rays that they force you to bite down on that chafe your gums. You have to push yourself up against an unforgiving machine, manipulate your pectoral muscles, and then relax. Oh, yeah. Okay.
Now that we are all done, all there is to do is wait. Nurse Sharon told me that they would send a letter. If they found anything or needed more imaging because they think they might have found something, they would call me in the next 24 hours.
Here’s hoping the phone doesn’t ring.
But even as I’m writing this, there was one missed call on my phone from a number not in my contacts. They didn’t leave a message, or else it hasn’t registered yet.
Shit. Stay tuned.