In 2005 I was diagnosed with an aggressive and invasive form of Breast Cancer. Even at age 52 it was a shock to me. An even greater shock was finding out through researching Breast Cancer that 1 in 8 women would, at sometime in their lifetime, be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This statistic was staggering to me.
The good news is that the mortality rate, or number of deaths, due to Breast Cancer is on the steady decline. Treatment is customized for each patient’s specific cancer. Being an author, I decided to take notes about my treatment should I ever want to write a book about it.
When women think of having a Mammogram the first word that comes to mind is, ‘ouch!’ or something similar. Unfortunately, until medical science comes up with a better method, Mammograms are a fact of life for women, especially over the age of 40.
Being a person who is usually viewing life on the up side, I found more humor in what I was going through than I ever thought possible. People do not associate cancer with laughter but I hope to change that, to a degree, anyway. Your doctor will not tell you how to prepare for a Mammogram but I will here.
1. Open your refrigerator door and insert one breast between the door and the main box.
2. Have one of your strongest friends slam the door shut as hard as possible and lean on the door for good measure.
3. Hold that position for five seconds.
4. Don’t breathe.
5. Repeat again in case the first time wasn’t effective enough.
6. Repeat all steps on the other breast.
1. Visit your garage at 3:00 a.m. when the temperature of the concrete floor is just perfect (anywhere below 32 degrees.)
2. Take off all your warm clothes and lay on the floor with one breast wedged tightly under the rear tire of the car.
3. Ask a friend to slowly back the car up until the breast is sufficiently flattened and chilled.
4. Turn over and repeat for the other breast.
Congratulations! You are now properly prepared for your Mammogram.
The day of my first Mammogram after my diagnosis was one I will never forget. I entered Hooterville Breast Care Center with more apprehension than usual. When I told her I might be writing a book about my treatment, the technician said she wanted to be called Ginger. I made a note of that. I wasn’t sure if we would still be speaking after she was done with me. And, since the body parts to be examined are so personal, I named my right breast, Laverne, and my left breast, Shirley. Laverne was under the gun today.
I have to give kudos to Hooterville for supplying me with an extra large gown even though I told her that, at my age, all I needed to do was pull up my skirt! Then Ginger led me into the room with the Booby Trap. It’s the only contraption I know of that takes cups and turns them into saucers without having to sweep up glass. Ginger is tall, pretty…oh, who cares? This is about me.
You larger than tiny gals know the drill. I stepped up to the Booby Trap and introduced myself. He didn’t care and we all now it’s a ‘he.’ Ginger pulled out the largest shelf she had and invited Laverne to have a seat. Laverne obliged having had the memory of her last Mammo squeezed out of her.
As Ginger pressed the button on the floor, I knew what was coming even if Laverne didn’t. I was grinding my teeth as the top shelf began depressing Laverne into enough square footage to carpet my veranda! She began to spill over the sides and reminded me of that old fifties, ‘The Blob.’ Satisfied that she could squeeze no more, Ginger told me to hold my breath and don’t move. Now I must note here that it was not possible to take a breath because my right lung was oozing out my nipple! And as for moving…well that’s too ridiculous to even address. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”
Several pictures were taken in different poses and than Laverne was released to wait with me while Ginger put them up for auction on Ebay. As we’re waiting, I looked down at Laverne and she was as red as a tomato. It took all my self-control to keep from hollering down the hall, “I need a bucket of ice…I’m on fire in here!” Ginger must have found some takers because she returned to take me to the ultrasound room.
I can be flippant about it now because the pain is gone. What I want you to realize from reading this account is that attitude is very important in your recovery. I chose to see the humor in a difficult situation. Because of that, you had a good laugh or two by reading about it. I am pleased to say that I am a two-year survivor and should the cancer return, I hope I will again be able to laugh a little.