Every September I give myself a very special birthday gift – guess what it is. It’s not a fun or exciting gift, and it’s actually a little uncomfortable. However, it makes it possible for me to be here for another year, so it’s truly the gift that keeps on giving. Give up? It’s a mammogram.
For all of those men in the audience who have always wondered what a mammogram is like, I’d like to help you out. Go into your garage and find the largest clamp that you can. Insert two flat pieces of thin wood (think particle board or paneling), place an appendage between them and crank the clamp tightly. Tight enough to be really uncomfortable without killing your blood supply or tissue. Hold your breath. Wait 7 seconds. Breathe out while loosening the clamp. Repeat. You should also hang a sign that says, “We compress because we care”.
This process helps if you have a chatty, friendly tech. Never mind that all you have between you and a complete stranger is a thin robe that ties awkwardly (or not at all) and a massive machine. It also helps to be less modest. In the world of women’s medicine, you get used to letting it all hang out. Literally.
A few months back, a very smug looking teenaged boy came into the library wearing a shirt that says “I Love Boobs”. Maybe he did really care about breast cancer, but I personally think that he thought it was just fun to wear a shirt that had those words on it. Another man had one that said, “Save the Tatas”. He looked pretty proud of himself too. It seems like the Breast Cancer Awareness movement has become widespread, even if the message makes you look twice.
That’s why every September I remember my grandma and aunt, both of whom died of metastatic breast cancer, when I have a mammogram. Save the tatas indeed.