5 Things I Learned During My First Mammogram

I turned 40, so I had my first mammogram. It was WAY better than turning 10 and having a cute boy in my class pull my chair out from under me, sending me crashing to the ground and rushing for a hall pass to scurry to the bathroom to hide in a stall to cover my tears and serendipitously — SURPRISE! — discover my first period.

It turns out some rites of passage are more fun than others. 

To commemorate this special time in my life, here are…

5 Things I Learned During My First Mammogram 

1. They give you a cape! Like a superhero! Which you fling back to expose your breasts, like your super power is Boob Woman. I LOVE THIS. I only breastfed my kids for 5 months total, but STILL. Boobs are powerful juju, man. They’re the pillows of the chest (unlike the pillows of the butt or the pillows of the thighs), and they’re a symbol of LIFE and of NURTURING and of THE ONGOING CHALLENGE TO FIND JUST ONE SHIRT THAT FITS RIGHT, so they deserve to be celebrated! On the downside, the mammogram people don’t let you take the cape with you, no matter how much you beg. 

Mammogram6

2. Mammogram techs LOVE to take selfies with their patients in the mammogram room. They don’t think it’s weird at all.

Mammogram5

3. Mammogram machines also love a good portrait, but, fair warning, they don’t buy you dinner and they do expect you to put out afterward.

Mammogram2

4. If you have a gazillion children, or just one who’s truly gifted at headbutting or elbowing you in the chest, you have nothing to fear from a mammogram. Nothing. Because your boobies are already made out of callouses and granite, and a gentle squeeze from a contoured plastic device built to cradle you and not contuse you won’t even register. I promise.

Mammogram3

^^^callouses and granite^^^

5. A mammogram is not a mastectomy, and if you get those confused, your friends will totally overreact until you make the correction.

In conclusion, mammograms <-- highly recommend.

The End

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
18 comments
  1. Wow, what an interesting way to approach a mamogram. On my screen, your x-rayed boob is larger than life. Like as big as my head. It’s a little bit freaky, but totally made my day. Thanks!

  2. […] Well, sort of. It doesn’t really look like a boob and it’s for mammogram awareness, so it doesn’t count as, like, putting a picture of my boob on the […]

  3. Well I’m not 40 for a few more years, but thank you for making me feel so much better about this process! My 2 yr old is a headbutt-er, an expert elbower & a plunker (on my stomach, chest, whatever he can get to) so I now feel as though I will be well prepared 🙂

  4. Thanks for posting this. I have been getting mammograms for years and never thought of the cape thing. It will totally bring a smile to my face next time!

  5. Just get it done. I can’t believe a doctor would discourage a mammo. You could be that one person to be diagnosed early and treated successfully You have nothing to lose by getting one but everything to lose by not getting one. You at least need one now for a baseline. Change docs if necessary. Please please get it done

  6. You are awesome for posting this and making women realize it is not a horrible experience. I know many women are terrified of the idea and to see this will help them get over the fear. The picture of the machine helps ease fears, it’s not some big scary monster machine!! I had 5 before I was 40 and do self exams on the first of every month because of lumps found in my 30’s that were benign. Don’t wait, schedule today ladies!!!

  7. I went last week and I think we had the same tech! I love that you took pictures in there to commemorate it!
    What kind of sucks though is when they call you the next day and say they want a follow up one and a possible ultrasound then tell you they can’t get you in for a week:-( That is this Wednesday.
    On a side note, if your breasts get tender before your period, don’t schedule a mammogram for that time, it is less fun!

  8. Did I see you today?! Seriously, today was my first mammogram! And it really was a breeze! I was seen 35 minutes ahead of schedule and I was actually kind of bummed–3 kids 6years and younger–not a lot of time to myself. I like to think of dr. appointment time as my “alone time”!

  9. You forgot about the pasties! Did you not get to tape little bb pellets to your nipples?

    My tech reminded me to remove them when I got dressed. Something I appreciated, as I would have forgotten. Or maybe I just secretly wanted to pretend I had super-alternative piercings.

    1. Ummm… I didn’t get to have any nipple pellets, Amy. Now I feel sad and cheated.

      1. Maybe it was so they could *find* my nipples. Since between heredity and ten years worth of pregnancy and nursing, they are well south of the equator these days. (:

  10. I am WAY delinquent in this matter. But I did have one a long time ago, and I also thought it was pretty neat the way they can get all flat and squishy. And it didn’t hurt but that’s maybe because I have no feeling left in them, having been nursed upon for more than 6 YEARS.

  11. I lost a friend several years ago to cancer. It started as a couple lumps. That she ignored. By the time she was diagnosed, it was too late.

    It was characteristic of her that the first thing she did was think of others.

    She sent a mass email to all her female friends and said, “Please. For me. Go. Get the mammogram you’ve been putting off.”

    I was afraid to go. I’d been sent the thing that circulated around the internet about how to prepare for a mammogram.

    (Lie on your side on the floor in your garage. Put a piece of plywood on your boob. Have someone park a truck on it. Make sure the floor is really cold. )

    And I didn’t find it funny, I found it terrifying. And I didn’t go get my mammo when I turned 40. Terrifying.

    But not as terrifying as the fact that my good friend, the one with five children, one of them only two years old, was in the final stages of terminal cancer.

    So I went. And it wasn’t a big deal. And I go every year (family history) and every year, I remember my friend Daionna with love and gratitude and miss her very, very much.

    It’s not a big deal. It could save your life so you’ll be around to hold your children. And your friends.

  12. I’m 55 and have had several. It’s been about 2 years, and I need to get back in. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Wait! I’m not 55 yet! I’m still 54! I always seem to jump my age ahead to what I’ll be on my next birthday! Sheesh. As if I’m not old enough already!

  13. @ Michelle, that is because his recommendation comes on the *newish* guidelines from the USPSTF for screening for breast cancer:

    http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm

    The USPSTF is an independent task force that uses evidence based medicine to make recommendations for screening guidelines (not just breast cancer screening, but any screenings).

    1. *edit* sorry his or her recommendation is what I meant to say.

  14. Would you believe my doctor said that it really isn’t necessary for a woman to get a mammogram at 40 (I turned this year too) if there is no family history and good pap smear results? So – this step in life is still a mystery to me. I appreciate your review of the process. Thank you.

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