The Big Squish

I heard a lot about mammograms before I ever got to experience one. Between the comments from friends about the pain, the comics with women portrayed with flattened boobies, and the funny stories about the exam itself, I had no idea what to think. Honestly, by the time my gynecologist ordered my first mammogram when I turned 40, I was intrigued. I was finally going to be initiated and be able to join the conversation. It was oddly sort of exciting.

Today marked my fifth mammogram. Of my previous four mammograms, three came back with normal results. One did not. There is no way to describe my internal panic when that third mammogram came back with questionable spots that required further investigation. I know now that this is a common event, especially among women with smaller breasts and denser breast tissue. At the time, however, I freaked out. I remember going through all the worst case scenarios, mentally imagining myself purchasing a wig to replace the hair I had spent so long growing out and that now chemotherapy would take. In the end it was nothing, but it sure did make me think about how much time we spend worrying about things that never pan out and how many times we don’t see something until it’s too late.

As I stood there today, positioned in that bizarro machine with my breasts alternately being served up on a radiation platter, I was reminded that life is a crap shoot. And, I suppose that is what makes it so interesting, the way it can change (for good or bad) at a moment’s notice. Sometimes you get a sign that change is on the horizon, just like I did when that third mammogram came back with sketchy results, but then amazingly it doesn’t. Other times it just goes along without incident, and you find yourself wishing for some excitement. No matter what, though, you just never know.

That one false reading on the Big Squish did something positive for me. It reminded me that life can change in an instant. It’s best not to take anything for granted.

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