The M Word

One recent evening, I waxed poetic to my boyfriend on why “it is most definitely a man’s world.”  (Dun) (Dun) (Dun)

MAMMOGRAM.

This is a rite of passage reserved for women in their early forties, but this month I had the great honor of joining the club 10 years The M Wordearly.  During my retelling of the great mammo escapade, my boyfriend tried to one-up me in terms of torture with his sorrowful tales of the old cup and cough that guys go through when they visit a doctor every, oh what is it, 10 years?  But all I had to say was stirrups and cold steel and he knew I had him beat.

If you haven’t experienced it, those monster mammo clamps are something out of a sci-fi flick.  There’s something unsettling about the mammo tech saying ever so sweetly, “Now take a deep breath, hon,” while she slowly twists down and tightens the huge blocks of steel and plastic.

In the days following my mammo, I did my best to not think pink.  Pink Ladies are rad, pink ribbons not so much (but thank God the Grease skit I did with my girlfriend at a senior year pep rally was in the pre-YouTube era).  With the support of my girlfriends, I managed to stay positive.

If you haven’t experienced it, those monster mammo clamps are something out of a sci-fi flick.  There’s something unsettling about the mammo tech saying ever so sweetly, “Now take a deep breath, hon,” while she slowly twists down and tightens the huge blocks of steel and plastic.

After pestering my doctor’s office for two weeks, I finally received the report.  Do I have breast cancer?  No.  Thank God.  One of my girlfriends was certain of a positive outcome.  She couldn’t fathom the thought that I could be sick yet again.

Will I get breast cancer?  I don’t know.  I do know that I have additional risk factors and require a second mammo in six months.

But nothing much has changed from my life pre-mammo.  Except that now I know that just because you have one chronic illness (or two … or three … or four … or five … or six) it doesn’t give you a get-out-of-jail-free card for diseases like cancer.  I can’t ignore the research studies about cancer prevention because I already “have enough to worry about” or jaywalk because I already have a good idea what my cause of death might be.  And I certainly can’t leave it to my doctors or the monster clamps to keep me healthy.

As Dr. Oz said on his Web site this week, “Detection does not equal prevention … we cannot test to safety; we must live to safety.”

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