For those of us who were dressed in pink booties right at the get-go, the personal fight against breast cancer begins with a telephone call to make a mammogram appointment.
The next step is to jot the date on the calendar immediately because it is something we would like to forget but know we shouldn't.
If we called for a hair appointment and were told we had to wait two or three weeks, we would be angry and call another shop. But if we are stalled on the breast examination, we understand. It's OK, we think, there are so many hundreds of women booking appointments, it may take longer to get in.
Once in a while you hear people say they enjoy going to the dentist. And there are those friends and relatives who
report that a colonoscopy is
not as bad as they feared. But have you ever heard a woman say she just couldn't wait to get her mammogram, that she is sorry medical rules limit it to once a year because she would just like a checkup every six months?
Comes the day on the calendar when it's our turn for the test that could save our lives as it has thousands of others. Forget any body fragrances that might have metallic properties. This is not the day to smell like gardenias but just to be clean and congenial.
While you are undressing to the waist and trying to figure out which is the front of the complimentary hospital gown you have to wonder why this procedure can't be as simple as getting an X-ray when you just stand up tall and the technician takes the picture.
Technicians are nice people who have a job they couldn't give away. The mammograms are usually administered by women, and if they are over 30 and have followed the breast cancer precaution rules, they have been there, done that.
They know how cold the steel plate can be. They know an occasional pinch hurts when the second plate moves in, but they also know it only takes seconds for the procedure to end, and you only hope your loud groan wasn't heard in the adjacent dressing room.
While the technician is checking the film you are invited to stay in the room and relax in the comfort of an upholstered chair, pick up a magazine to read or call your best friend and say, "Guess where I am? It's not as bad as I thought."
Once almost a hush-hush examination in the same category as a Pap test, mammograms are headline news in the fight against breast cancer. Such news is amplified across the nation in other ways, such as the Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure.
Local health-care providers and media outlets are promoting the Power of Pink to further education locally.
Such public outcries are commendable and rewarding to the participants, but the race for the cure begins when each of us who is within the danger age range makes the appointment for a mammogram examination. It continues when we keep the appointment and doesn't end until we tell our friends it's not as bad as we thought. It truly isn't.
My appointment was two weeks ago. A letter signed by the interpreting radiologist came a week later and said, "We wish to inform you that the results of your recent mammography examination shows no evidence of cancer. "
Life is too precious not to make the call.