Women have a unique relationship with their breasts and since most of you reading this probably have them, you know that it’s far more complicated than it should be. Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding (or lack of) add a whole new element to that relationship. By the time baby is born they are barely recognizable as your own and then they are barely even yours after. You worry about them working right and cry when sometimes they don’t. They are an amazing part of what makes us women. And for those of us with family history of breast cancer, in that relationship there is an element of fear.
I got my first mammogram a couple weeks ago. No, I’m not forty yet (although it’s starting to feel like it’s looming) but family history indicated it was time. That, and there are too many women in my extended circle dying of breast cancer in their 30s and family members being diagnosed to put it off any longer. I know there is controversy about effectiveness and radiation all that. I know that some people feel that thermography is a better option. I ultimately chose mammography as my best option at this time. And I felt like I was joining a club.
I now know what the jokes are about and how awkward it is. It’s like a adjustable vice. For some reason I’d thought there would be some, I don’t know, shape to it. For some reason it never occurred to me to look up what the machine looked like. (For those of you who haven’t seen one, that’s what that picture is!) Added to that, no matter how carefully I followed directions, I was not in the correct position. That meant, not only was I getting squished, I also had a lady poking and prodding and grabbing me to get me into the right position. It was sort of like trying to learn to breastfeed all over again only hands free. But I survived. It wasn’t super painful. Just uncomfortable and awkward.
We all know about breast cancer. You’d have to live under a rock to avoid the pink ribbons and not be “aware.” We are "aware" to the point that "awareness" is nearly a joke. But no awareness in the world matters, no statistics or “risk” matter if you are part of those numbers. We all know someone who is affected. I’m leery enough of the radiation to not be sure I’ll have yearly scans after I turn 40 and I have a few years yet before I need to make that decision. I will, however, continue to do regular self exams and talk to my doctor about my options given my history. As women (and some men) these are choices we face. I’ll take the choices that come with getting older over the alternative. When the time comes, and if you decide mammography is also the right decision for you, I’ll say, “welcome to the club!”
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin