When I turned 40, since I was breast feeding at the time, I had to wait until I'd weaned KFP. Last year, my ob-gyn gave me a prescription to have a mammogram, but I put it off due to the minor inconvenience of finding a babysitter in order to get it done.
This year, I had no more excuses: KFP is in preschool for three hours in the morning. What's more, his class picture day (which I'd arranged with the school administrator to serve as his make-up day for a previous sick absence) happened to fall on Walk-In Wednesday at the Riddle Memorial Hospital's Breast Center. Between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. each Wednesday, you can walk in with no appointment and have a screening mammogram. All you needed was your doctor's prescription, your insurance card and a photo I.D.
Looking forward to it I was not, but I know at least four breast cancer survivors -- two of them my age -- so I couldn't justify putting it off any longer. I planned ahead, taking an ibuprofen before the exam (though I'm not sure it helped). I brought my sample issue of "The Funny Times" with me, a humor magazine I'd like to submit some work to. It had me laughing in the waiting room, which made the other women raise their eyebrows.
The actual experience itself was exactly as I'd always heard described but wasn't nearly as painful as I'd imagined. Rather than the sort of sharp pain of, say, a toddler kicking you in the breast by accident, it was a steady pressure that hurt more in the 20 minutes or so afterwards (when presumably my circulation returned) than it did in the moment.
About 5-10 minutes later, I was done. The whole experience took less than an hour.
The technician warned me that, since it was my first mammogram and there would be no baseline, they might order follow-up imaging. If that doesn't happen, and if the results are clear, I'll get a letter in 10 days. Otherwise, I'll get a call next Monday or Tuesday.
And now all that's left to do is to cross my fingers.