Making the breast of things

The wonderful singer Lhasa de Sela died at the age of 37 from breast cancer. This got me thinking that it was time to book myself a mammogram. After all, caught in time, breast cancer doesn’t have to be a killer.

I had heard vague rumours about the procedure but nothing to worry about. Although perhaps that sign in the changing room that said something about using air pressure and ‘the breasts can stand it’ might have been a warning…

I took off my top and stood there in front of a gleaming white machine with see-through plates. I soon found myself hugging the machine in some kind of weird pole-dancing posture while the nurse grinded the plates against my breast bone while jamming my breast uncomfortably between the plates.

Now, as flat as a pancake is not an expression I normally associate with breasts – well, not since school anyway! As the plates squashed together mechanically so that not even a pin would fit in there, the nurse came and tightened them even further for good luck – and I had the rather disturbing experience of feeling my boobs run out onto those plates like thin crepes.

After two X-rays, I started putting my top on. “Hang on!” the nurse cried out merrily. “Two more to go!” Ah – they squash the boobs laterally first and then horizontally. “Some people take aspirins before they come!” she said. (Now you tell me!) By now my boobs were running over those plates like batter. Who knew they could get that thin – and bounce back to normal size afterwards?

Five minutes and it was all over. And to be honest, a visit to the dentist is far more painful!

So, if you are aged 40 or above, make sure you book yourself in for a mammogram. After all, it’s all about one of the most important things in your life: your health!

42 responses

  1. Thanks for the lecture! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Now I know exactly what I am not missing, being a mere man.
    However I have had a similar experience involving kidney functions, not nice!

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 16:49

  2. Thank you for posting this and trust me, a mammogram is far less painful/uncomfortable/scary than chemo!

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 17:29

    • Exactly! Everyone should go and get one done… it’s more the thought of squashed boobs that puts people off. The actual procedure isn’t too bad.

      Like

      February 10, 2010 at 18:12

  3. Yikes! I had no idea! Good thing I still have 8 years!

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 17:31

  4. Yes, I have one of these every few years and now I am on HRT it will be every two years. I have boobage galore and it always amazed me how much of the plate they can get covered. Oh well, better big than small – that’s what Mr FF says anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 18:23

  5. I agree with FF. Better to have big boobs for this procedure. My friend has “little to nothing” and she says it hurts more. I believe her. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I had a mammogram a few years ago, and I you made a great description! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 19:09

  6. Big, little, in between. This is the time when boobs are just hidden sacks that hide more sacks. With mammograms and hand-examinations we have discovered that these objects of desire can be booby traps. Yes, sisters. We are carrying bombs and we don’t know it.

    So, off you go. Let them check us out. Let’s clear those booby traps and live to tell our lives to our grandchildren.

    Thanks Lady F for such an important post!

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 19:38

  7. kelli

    Thank you for this reminder.. I have not had one since I moved to DK but I need to book it…soon.

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 22:52

  8. I’m so not looking forward to it…

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 22:54

  9. Goodness us poor women really have to do it all ,eh?

    Like

    February 10, 2010 at 23:04

  10. Clive

    As both my Mom and her Mom died in their fifties from breast cancer I have a mammogram every two years since I was 30 and I mentioned my family history to my local doctor.

    Seeing my Mom’s two year battle and having her die three months before Murray was born has made me so consious of looking after my health – life is fragile ….

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 00:04

  11. I have mine once a year again..I was on six months for a few times because of Calcifications that they were watching. I never thought my boob would fill up a whole x ray plate..but it does. I find it very painfyl. but necessary. I wish there was some other way to do this procedure. I am glad you went!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 02:57

  12. This is such a great reminder, Lady Fi. I have had one done every year for over a dozen years. I lost my best friend to breast cancer about 7 years ago and, believe me, what she went through was way worse than a mammogram. If your are unfortunate enough to get breast cancer, it is something you want to discover as early as possible.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 03:48

  13. So glad you are doing this. I have to do it twice a year now, but I’m not complaining.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 05:24

  14. I don’t know what women did before mammograms. I think we all know at least one person who has had breast cancer. At least people are speaking openly about it now. Like here in this post. Very important. Very necessary.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 05:26

  15. Thanks for the post. Yes, it is a horrible experience, but it is also something that is more than worth going through just so we can be sure.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 05:53

  16. Thanks for the reminder.. I’m overdue. I think being smaller is easier. I never find it too rough.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 06:44

  17. Amy

    I’ve never had a mammogram and reading this I’m not exactly going to run out and order myself one!! Geez-sounds horrible!!! I’ll be turning 40 in December…I imagine I WILL eventually have one but like I said, not exactly thinking I want to run out and get one done after reading this FI….ugh….Hope your results were as they should be and thanks for the tip of asprin when I finally do make it in…

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 07:36

    • It’s just the thought of it Amy… it really isn’t that bad at all. Going to the dentist is far far worse!

      Like

      February 11, 2010 at 08:33

  18. Oh my God. It’s about time the medical profession started respecting women’s bodies!

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 08:48

    • Louise – the reason the boobs have to be really flat is so that they can use a very low level of radiation.

      Like

      February 11, 2010 at 08:54

  19. mother of the cousins

    I am surprised you are having one just because you are over 40.
    There have been some reports saying having one might possibly activate some cells. I hope not. I’ve had two sets of mammograms over past 5 years or so, but for good investigative reason.
    Apart from that, yes, it is very very uncomfortable and unpleasant at the time and almost a feeling of degrading.
    but they bounce back.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 11:43

    • mother of the cousins

      Actually it is very important for us to CHECK and FEEL our boobs on a regular basis, and/or get partner to do so. That’s very important.

      Like

      February 11, 2010 at 11:46

      • Sweden has decided to call in all women automatically from 40 yrs of age in order to try and detect breast cancer in its early stages.

        Like

        February 11, 2010 at 12:23

  20. an important reminder…too many go so young…

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 11:47

  21. Well done :)! That is a unique experience that we must know as women. The writing reminded me all too well it.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 15:30

  22. Good advice. I’ve always dreaded the idea but as you are prompting us, I think it’s a good time to bite the bullet.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 15:41

  23. Your description almost made me pass out! Of course, Peter had to hold my hand when I had an IV put in me for my CT scan; I just hate all medical tests.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 16:55

  24. I don’t know what’s going to happen next yet! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 19:25

  25. I finally dragged myself in there when I turned 45, and it was fine. Pressure and stretching, but not pain.
    ( I took tylenol prior)

    I am terrible at keeping up with my own health appts, but have others to think of, my 5 children and husband obviously, so now plan to go to the next with a girlfriend so we will motivate each other.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 19:45

  26. holly r

    thanks for the reminder! Another year, another mam/pap. It’s not that bad and for me, it’s more of an embarrassment to be hanging out there on the slab. I try to take an aleve before I go, so there’s really not much pain…just a little pinch on that final squeeze!

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 20:03

  27. Isn’t it amazin’ how very big they can make the smallest boob look squished between those plates! Heeeheehe!

    Ya’ll have a terrifically blessed day!!!

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 20:46

  28. You’re so right – the slight discomfort is small price to pay for your health. Your description, Fi, is perfect!

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 21:44

  29. OMG I had no idea! In the UK we’re offered breast scans over 50, I think. I love the cartoon, and of course it’s important to have it done. But it does sound pretty horrible!
    Janice.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 22:13

  30. A very good and readable contribution for an important course – thanks for sharing.

    Like

    February 11, 2010 at 22:24

  31. It really shouldn’t be that uncomfortable, if the tech is good.

    I remember everyone saying to me, oh you have small breasts, it is going to hurt soooo much. Well they were wrong, if the tech is good, there is little more then slight discomfort.

    Glad to hear that you have gone, it is a important test to do each year.

    Jen

    Like

    February 12, 2010 at 00:26

  32. Barreling up on the mammogram demographic and not looking forward to it, but hey, we’re lucky we’ve got ’em to get!

    Like

    February 12, 2010 at 00:44

  33. That cartoon just cracks me up! And I had my first a few years ago and it was not great but better than breast cancer for sure. BOOK A MAMMOGRAM LADIES!

    Like

    February 12, 2010 at 03:02

  34. mother of the cousins

    Actually, LadyFi, another really really important test is the pap smear cervical test. PLEASE can all the ladies make sure they have this done every time they are asked to come in for it. This one slips under the net too and is soo important.

    Like

    February 12, 2010 at 11:07

  35. Living in the U.S., I’ve had mammograms yearly, since 40. I sometimes worry about all the radiation and its effect. My Danish friend is 53, and has never had ONE. I don’t understand why not? Not even a pap smear. Isn’t it required in Sweden?

    Like

    February 12, 2010 at 14:48

  36. Fun post and with serious stuff it might as well be. Why they didnยดt say before that you have to take pills before? ๐Ÿ™‚ What were they thinking??!

    Like

    February 13, 2010 at 07:35

  37. I’ve been getting them since I was 40 as I have very cystic boobs. So far so good, but I would never miss, so good for you.

    I had a friend who was 51 and never been, I nagged her alot, she went last August to where I go and they found cancer. Luckily it was in time, but she still had a double mastectomy to deal with. This needs to be done as you said.

    Like

    February 15, 2010 at 19:40

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