So, here it is, Groundhog’s Day, my ex-husband celebrates being half a century old, and me, I’m just getting my boobies smooshed in a huge, obnoxious machine that will decide if I’m okay.
My first step is into the hospital lobby, where I say my name and that I’m there for a mammogram, my voice echoed due to yet another remodeling project. Blushing I looked toward the waiting area and watched as half a dozen faces turned away to avoid eye contact with me. Good, I thought, I’m not thrilled about being here anyway, so who cares what others think, I just hope they don’t remember me.
The receptionist asked me to have a seat among the half dozen people. As I walked to the nearest empty seat an elderly gentleman eagerly yells, “Hello” to me, and I feel self-conscious. Is he a dirty old man wondering if he can do my exam??? I avoid all eye contact as I politely return his greeting and sink into the chair, immediately turning my attention to my phone with desperate prayers for some sort of alert to help me avoid further conversation.
A few minutes later I am called to registration where the lady and I joke about my upcoming testing. It’s okay, I always joke with her, so it’s not that offensive.
Slowly, I walk the long hall to the Betty Ford Breast Services. Psh, they actually have breast services? How quaint? Or should I say, how forward thinking as judging from my cancer scare last year I do believe my breasts have a mind of their own.
Pushing the door open I enter and am greeted by yet another employee who takes my paper work from registration and gives me a couple of forms to fill out. A television plays on the opposite wall, conversation about Groundhog’s Day of course. I don’t care though, because I’m beginning to fear a repeat of last year’s mammogram results.
The lady at the desk walks me back, no instruction is needed, she recognizes me from last time, and last time before, and so on. The nervousness is creeping into my stomach as I undress from the waist up and put on a half gown. Placing my items into the locker I walk around the corner, where again a television is on, but I still don’t care.
The lady before me comes out of the mammography room sniffling, I remember when that was me, just 12 months ago, and I want to give her a hug, but I’m braless and that would just be weird. As she goes around the corner to change I can still hear her tears, it is like a waterfall in the woods, but I don’t know what to say. My own nervousness is now creeping up to my throat, and as I swallow saliva I begin to choke, my coughing making her tears seem silent as I gasp for air, and still, I’m alone, no one to comfort me, or even bring me a glass of water.
I gather what is left of my self-control I again listen to her tears turning to just shy of sobs. Then, she appears in front of me, with the largest fake smile I have ever seen, for her tear stains were unhidden, and all I could say is, “I hope that you have a wonderful day.” What a stupid thing to say under the circumstances. It certainly wasn’t what I was thinking, I should have told her … the chances, the percentages of positive biopsies, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do that, because I remember, last year, when they ran the numbers by me and all I could think is, “Yeah, but I lost 100% of my mother to breast cancer.”
Yeah, I know her fears, and it was all I could think about as the technician squeezed the monstrous machine onto my delicate breasts and told me to hold my breath. What about her? Who is holding their breath with her as she awaits her results? Who will hold their breath with me?