I’d done a pretty good job of not freaking out, but the second that they moved me into the ultrasound room, I regretted not letting any of my friends come with me. I’d had a routine mammogram the week before and didn’t think very much about it. Then, I got the call that there was a “suspicious area” and that they needed me to come back in for a diagnostic mammogram. It only took a few days to get an appointment, even with the weekend and the 4th of July holiday, but it felt like forever. I didn’t let myself get on scary websites or research statistics on moms with four kids having breast cancer. I knew it was common to be called back and I decided to just go and handle it and not make a big fuss about it.
This plan worked in the first waiting room and during the first set of pictures. There was something, though, about them needing “more information” and being ushered into the ultrasound room that sent my mind racing. As the ultrasound technician inspected the suspicious area, I couldn’t help but jump a dozen steps ahead to the possibility of losing my breasts. And I realized that I hadn’t valued them enough over the years.
I remembered being 13 years old and throwing myself across my twin bed. I was sobbing because I was sure that my breasts would never show up. I’d been at Burger King with some friends who knew these high school guys that were talking to us. They asked me how old I was and then one of them laughed and said, “You look like a ten year old.” My friends were a little younger than me but were much more developed. I wanted desperately to look older. Knowing what I know now, I feel confident that those dudes are probably in prison. I also know that looking younger probably was a good thing for me, since it kept me out of situations that I wouldn’t have been able to handle. Nonetheless, I was impatient and angry with my breasts for being tardy.
When they eventually showed up, they did their job well, but I haven’t appreciated them enough. After all, they’ve fed my children. They haven’t been much trouble to lug around and they have stayed in their place. They haven’t been fussy or pushy. They have been dutiful and respectable and hard-working.
My breasts have the same redeeming qualities as Queen Elizabeth. They are pretty much the exact same as the Queen of England.
When the technician finished the ultrasound, she went and got the radiologist. I really didn’t want to meet any more health professionals at this point. Fortunately, it wasn’t very long after the radiologist came in and repeated the ultrasound that I was told that I was clear and free to go. She said that I had an area that was unusually dense and that I should come back in 6 months to re-screen. I felt relief and gratitude and a new appreciation for anything about my body that was working properly.
I was also very aware that in radiology departments around the country, plenty of women had been moved from the ultrasound room into the next steps of biopsy and medical options and treatment plans. Since my appointment, I’ve been praying for all the women who are navigating this system and for their families. I hope they aren’t alone and scared.
I couldn’t wait to get out of that hospital. As I was screeching out of the parking garage, I looked down at my breasts and said out loud, “You did well today. I’m sorry I haven’t been nicer to you and I’ll do better. Can I treat you to a smoothie? I’d like to thank you for your service.”
I hope we’ll have many more decades together, my regal breasts and me.