“Just put your arm around this bar and hold it tight. Lean in a little more. Just a little more,” said the radiology technician as she readied me for my annual mammogram this morning. My tiny left breast went under the squeeze first. Then my tiny right breast went under the squeeze next.
“Do I have dense tissue?” I asked the technician. According to a recent article in the New York Times, states have begun passing laws requiring clinics that perform mammograms to tell patients whether they have dense tissue. Women who have dense tissue must, under those laws, also be told that it can hide tumors on a mammogram, that it may increase the risk of breast cancer and that they need additional screening tests, like ultrasound or M.R.I. scans.
“Dense tissue is like a thick cloud. You know how you cannot see an airplane above a thick cloud,” said the technician. “That’s what happens when someone has dense tissue, you cannot see the tumor. These new machines are very good at seeing through the clouds.”
My dear friend R passed away from breast cancer this year. She was only in her early 60’s. We met in lamaze class. Our baby girls were born a few weeks apart. My baby girl is now a big girl in the big city. She just got promoted this week. Go A. Go A. Go A. You’ll be a CFO one day. My late friend R’s daughter M just became a doctor. Go M! Go M! Go M! I know you’ll be a great doctor. Your mom would be so proud of you. I thought of your mom today and think of her often.
“The doctor will call you with the results,” said the technician. “Okay,” I said. Each year when I go under the squeeze I get a little nervous, especially since I turned 50. I say a little prayer that my tiny breasts will remain lump-free.
Have you had your mammogram this year? Next week is the end of October. There are a few days left. Don’t forget!