I didn't write about it at the time because my mom wasn't keen on blasting the news across the Internet, but in late January of this year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. As far as the dreadful C-word goes, she was incredibly lucky. Her case was caught very early and was very treatable.
She had to undergo two surgeries to remove the tumor and deal with several weeks of radiation. But she's been in the clear for a few months now.
Given that her cancer was the first case in my immediate family (a favorite extended cousin had colon cancer several years ago but she kicked its butt, thank goodness) we were all pretty tipped upside-down when we got the news. What did it mean for our mom? What did it mean for our chances of getting cancer one day? What did we need to do to fix the situation immediately?
My sister is a nurse, so she sort of led the charge on information procurement. She kept all of us very well informed, which was comforting even if we didn't always know what it all meant.
My mom was a rock. No, a rockstar. She almost treated it like she'd been inducted into a club that a bunch of her other friends had already joined. From the beginning, she assured all of us she would be fine. And she was right. It's nice to have a mom telling you everything's going to be okay—particularly when it's her you're worried about most.
So in the aftermath of what may have turned out to be a blessing that'll keep all of us a little more vigilant about screening ourselves, eating right, and mitigating the risk factors we can control, I got the news that I was the lucky recipient of an early baseline mammogram.
My doctor referred me in April and I just finally went for my appointment this week.
I was so thankful that my wonderful friend Sizzle wrote a mammogram post and prepared me for what to expect. Thanks to her, I knew to wear pants so I wasn't standing fully exposed while a tech (wo)man-handled my ta-tas. My cousin also gave me a hilarious rendition of what was going to happen that went something like: "You'll change into a little gown and then they'll put you in a dimly lit room with soft music playing. It's kind of like being at the spa, except instead of giving you a massage, they give you the smashdown."
The smashdown. Made me laugh out loud.
I had heard horror stories from people about the pain and awkwardness of the whole process, so I was prepared for the worst. I thought of those times at the dentist when they'd hit a nerve and I'd grip the armrests while my eyes popped out of my head.
The mammie was totally not like that.
The only thing I can liken it to is getting my senior portrait taken in high school. Except I wore a top for that and the photographer didn't feel me up. But the whole "Drop your left shoulder down while holding your right one up and face your body this direction while tilting your chin that way" instruction felt oddly the same. I didn't look down at my boobies when they got smooshed and it didn't really hurt when they were doing it. Overall, it was much less traumatic than I expected.
Which is good because I plan to stay on top of my screenings from now until eternity. Like my mom, I want them to catch anything suspicious at a very early stage. And although I don't really want to come down with the C-word at any point, it would be an honor to be in that club with so many strong, amazing women who have.