Being fifty-something, I’m eligible for all sorts of government freebies like regular screening mammograms.
The letter arrived today, heralding that my mammogram time has cycled around again.
I should be pleased.
I should be grateful.
But every time I have to work my way through the process, thought by thought.
When I phone the clinic to make my mammogram appointment, I’ll think about how fortunate I am to have a clinic within walking distance of my home, and one staffed by such lovely, compassionate professionals.
On the day, when I’m seated in a waiting room full of nervous-looking women, I’ll scan around and wonder how many of us are lucky enough to be here for simple routine screenings. Definitely not the twenty-something and thirty-something women. What are their stories?
I’ll think about my sister-in-law, my cousin-in-law, friends, acquaintances and strangers. Those who’ve survived or succumbed to breast cancer. And those who have yet to go into battle.
When I’m standing top-half-naked in a beige room with only a massive mammography machine and a stranger for company, I’ll think about the women living in homelessness, in third world conditions, in war zones. They won’t receive mammogram reminder letters.
When I look down embarrassed by my white, shapeless boobs and the shortening distance between them and my waistband, I’ll think about the women who miss the breasts (and more) they’ve lost to cancer.
And, when the lovely compassionate stranger asks me to lift my saggy boob up onto the cold hard slab before she entraps it with another cold hard slab and squeezes it until I’m sure it’s going to burst … and then squeezes it some more … I’ll grin and be grateful for this pain that might just save my life.
How lucky am I?