Welcome to 40, Angela.
Sure. I’ve been here for six weeks.
But a couple of weeks ago, my doctor smiled at me right before my annual check (also known as Happy Fun Times for women) and said, ‘hey, it’s time for you.’
Yes. Time for me to undergo my first mammography — a procedure my mother once referred to as one of the most humiliating experiences of her life.
I’ve heard the stories and seen some pictures, all detailing the lovely machine that attempts to squish my boobies into pancakes.
But I know it’s one of those life aggravations that is worth it. After all, the MacIsaac side of my family has a lengthy history with cancer. And then there’s my friend Jenn, who tested positive for the breast cancer gene in her 20s, tested positive for breast cancer this summer and had her boobs removed. The good news? The cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes.
Breast cancer is always in the news. Boobs are a sexy,wondrous topic and breast cancer strikes at the very core of a woman’s femininity.
But, if you know me, you know my boobs ain’t no big thang. Even if they are big. I’d rather they be gone (again) then continue to carry these dead weights around. I don’t, however, want to be diagnosed with the C-word. I work hard to be healthy — I eat as cleanly as I can, I lift weights to battle the osteoporosis on my mother’s side, and I quit smoking a long time ago — and I want to stay that way.
I dutifully booked my appointment at the Market Mall Professional Centre.
I was greeted by Peggy, who wasted no time telling my why it’s important to her to be work on the mammogram machine. Her best friend died of breast cancer and she felt helpless, watching her friend die.
We talk about family history, how so many women come in terrified, how my mother had one exam back in the ’90s and never went back.
Peggy wants her patients to come back. It’s as important to her as it is to our health. She doesn’t want to see another woman die of cancer, even though she’s delivered the news to three women already today.
She wants to ensure the procedure is as comfortable as possible, so she explains it all before she guides me toward the machine.
“I’m not going to flatten your breasts out,” she says.
I’m not worried or scared. That’s due in part to a simple, pragmatic approach to the whole scenario and in part to Peggy, who talked me through it all.
As she manoeuvred my boobs into position, we got chatty. I mentioned my mother’s overall fear of doctors since my father died in 1996, following an initial misdiagnosis by his doctor in my home town. But what do you expect in smalltown Nova Scotia?
Oh, don’t ya know, Peggy knows what I mean. She’s from New Brunswick.
And we smalltown girls bond a little bit, as Maritimers are known to do — also, hence the aforementioned chattiness. We talk some more and, all of a sudden, it’s over.
No, a mammogram really isn’t that bad. For the slight amount of discomfort, it’s worth finding out if there’s anything wrong … anywhere on my body, given my family history.
Peggy made it easier for me. I hope there are more Peggys out there, easing each woman through what can be a very scary moment, especially if she’s already found a lump.
Me? I’m pretty confident I’ll get the all clear. But I won’t give myself the air high-five until I know for sure. In the meantime, I’ll support my friend Jenn in her Run for the Cure this weekend and ask you to do the same. Please donate to Team McCrea.
I’ll also ask you to take a brief moment and vote for Peggy in her quest to win a New York City vacation for her and her two kids. (You’ll need to register to vote. It’s worth it.)
She makes a difference in the world.