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...it’s just another one of those bizarre situations women should endure regularly
   to ensure we don’t become a statistic
 

  Undress to Compress
by Rose Cooper
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Columnists warning:
The following article contains references to female body parts (AKA - girly bits). Anyone who is offended by discussion of feminine topics, look away now, (or else get someone to put your eyes out after you’ve finished reading it).

I had my first mammogram the other day. It felt a bit premature, but rather than spoil an impeccable record of following doctor’s orders, I had it done anyway. Besides, I wanted to know if this procedure was as torturous as it had been made out to be.

I had a rough idea of what would happen, having seen file footage of mammograms on the nightly news (and those women were always smiling). While it looked awkward, it certainly didn’t scare me. Then I read one of those dreaded chain E-mails. Anyone who’s female, has the Internet and is the regular recipient of jokes; chain emails and the like, would undoubtedly know to which email I am referring. It contained an exaggerated and excruciatingly detailed description of mammograms, under the pretext of “this is the kind of crap we women have to put up with”.

As a rule, I don’t pass chain E-mails on. However, I did feel compelled to reply to the friend who had sent it, letting her know I felt it was irresponsible to spread propaganda which might actually serve as a deterrent to those more delicate, squeamish sisters among us. The kind of women who might even ignore a lump out of fear of the supposed pain and indignity of a mammogram.

I originally consulted the doctor because my left breast had been sore for a few days. I wasn’t alarmed. As a former nursing mother, I have intimate knowledge of my own ‘boobal terrain’ as it were. I figured it was merely a duct infection and an antibiotic would clear it up. My doctor was surprised I hadn’t had a mammogram before, but I was under the impression, that unless one had a family history of breast cancer, mammograms weren’t routine until the age of 50 (when they also become free). Apparently I was mistaken.

Having previously sermonized about acting responsibly, I felt honour-bound to go ahead with it – even though, by the time of my appointment, the prescribed antibiotic had done its job and good ol’ Lefty was as right as rain.

Ironically, I’d had a dentist’s appointment the day before, so when I walked into the mammogram clinic, I was still feeling residual traces of the bravery I’d psyched myself into the previous day. You could say I was in “impervious mode”.

The radiographer left me in the examining room to disrobe and while I awaited her return I read a little information poster on the wall. In pastel colours and attractive writing, it basically told me that the rough handling of my knockers would be necessary to get the best possible reading and it ended with the catchy slogan: ‘we compress, because we care’.

Okay, the word ‘compress’ had me a little nervous.

There’s no denying it; this is a very awkward procedure. You have to stand with your arm up around the apparatus, like you’re posing for a rather perverted prom photo. Then you lean in at odd angles, so maximum flesh can be gripped between the machine’s powerful jaws.

Is it painful? No. Certainly nothing to be scared of. The whole procedure feels just plain goofy. Like a Pap smear, it’s just another one of those bizarre situations women should endure regularly to ensure we don’t become a statistic. My results reported “nothing suspicious” but it was also noted that my breasts are “mammographically dense”.

Well…I never said they were rocket scientists.

 
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