After a doctor’s appointment last December, a poster advertising mammograms caught my attention. As a result, maneuvered my way to the department for a test. Unfortunately, was told the wait would be one month. The scan is available once a person turns forty. Because that birthday came and went in January, knew it was overdue.
A few weeks ago at the Kaiser Oakland Medical Center decided to give it another try. Signs of walk-in mammograms are scattered throughout the facility. Followed them all the way down to the basement. Couldn’t help think that of course, women’s health would be tucked away in a cold and dark dungeon (eye roll).
The process was quite easy with a board saying it would be 15-20 minute wait. Wanted this to be a quick in and out procedure because the day’s agenda was busy with work. Just as I was thinking this could be done another day, a woman rushed in obviously occupied and disturbed. She waved down the receptionist and made the comment “I got a call that they found something and I’m back for a follow-up.” Her comments hit me like a ton of bricks. She sat down and closed her eyes with her head towards the ground. Everyone in the room could feel the weight of her uneasiness: it could be anyone of us- we just don’t know yet.
Expecting my appointment soon, two individuals walked out after their tests: a transgender female and male. It didn’t even enter my mind that mammogram screening is for everyone. The majority of the Kaiser ads display middle-aged women (like myself) in the background of their “Thrive” posters encouraging the test. How could I be so short-sided, unaware, and insensitive? Has culture and commercialization infiltrated and narrowed my perspective subconsciously?
A technician entered the waiting room with a clipboard and called my name. Walking with the young woman, told her that this was my first test and declared: “I’m a mammogram virgin!” She asked if I put on deodorant and if so, it would have to be wiped off. After asking why, the chemicals can result in false positives. Took off my shirt and replaced it with a “fashionable” open front blue medical top.
I was then asked to lean my chest against the machine where my breast was smashed between two plastic plates like a sandwich. It didn’t hurt but it was awkward. Each breast gets two views: straight on and to the side. I commented to the technician that it must be fascinating maneuvering individuals of all shapes, sizes, ages, and personalities. She replied with a smile and said “Yes, I touch boobs all day and meet interesting people.”
After the test was completed, got dressed and asked to see my scan on the large computer screens. It was amazing, beautiful, and scary the wonders of technology. The images:
Fortunately, my scan showed no cancer. Hopefully, the above images will inspire one person to schedule an appointment. What are you waiting for? Life is short and make no excuses. Don’t waste the time and encourage love ones to get tested. Let’s conquer the world together, one mammary gland at a time.