It started as a simple note on my doctor’s chart.
You know, those new patient questionnaires asking everything from previous surgeries to your grandmother’s health.
Filling it out, I came to the question – last mammogram.
This is where I confess; I’ll be 45 this year.
Until a few weeks ago, I had not joined this mainly female club. I kept putting off my membership application, so to speak.
For the last three years, as part of the Grove Sun's October Breast Cancer Awareness month stories, I planned to get “squished” and then write about the experience in a humorous way.
Doing it this way would bit self-serving, since it would not only get the check mark on my chart, but also let me address why women should get their annual check ups.
In the four years I’ve worked at the Grove Sun, I’ve written enough stories about breast cancer to know, mammograms are an important part of women’s health care – and not something to ignore.
But somehow, I did just that. I put off getting my own test.
Oh, I had lots of reasons, none good; and frankly, I ignored the voices calling for me to have the test - aka friends and family - to some extent.
But finally, I met my match. I didn’t get a choice. The doctor’s nurse set up the appointment before I left the office.
Of course, I asked for an early morning slot. I wanted to get it over with, even if it meant forgoing a bit of sleep, so I could get back to the paper. It was all strictly routine.
Then the moment of squish came. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t excited.
I’ve listened to enough women talk. I’ve heard mammograms, or “mamo” for short, described in not so pleasant terms.
Women much older and wiser than myself, likened it to lying on the garage floor and letting someone crush your boobs with a tire – attached to a car, that’s moving.
Greeted with laughter by some, frankly, it made me dread joining the illustrious Sisterhood of the Squished Boobs.
Finally, my name was called. I followed the tech with apprehension. Dreading what would appear at the end of the hall.
For the record, the gal who administered my test - at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital - was amazing. My experience was not what I expected. It was done with care, minimal discomfort, and more laughter than agony.
I spent more time discussing her pregnancy, and asking questions about her kids, than worrying about the test.
Then it was over. Before I left, she warned me sometimes - especially when it involves someone who is “endowed” - additional tests might be needed.
I’m glad she planted the seed of “don’t worry” in my head, because the call came. My first squish returned needing additional images.
While part of my brain said, “remember what she said,” another part started to whisper “what if…” and frankly, the what if’s won. I began to fear the unknown.
You see, I’ve written about the women who’ve faced the what if’s in life. I know what bravery it takes when the what if’s turn into what’s next. I wasn’t sure I could handle joining that club.
One of my first calls, after getting the news, was to one of those warriors. She cautioned me to keep the fears at bay; to instead think about round two as simply a double check test
She reminded me to pray. That alone was a priceless gift.
So I prayed and waited. And waited.
It took a couple weeks to get the procedure scheduled. A glitch with my insurance moved the date forward at least once.
Finally the day of reckoning arrived. The same amazing gal did my second test. Unlike other medical professionals - not working in Grove - she answered my questions – all 5,375 of them.
She showed me the area of concern on the films from my first squish, and prepared me for the possibility of an immediate ultrasound, should the radiologist deem it necessary.
Again, those words of caution proved true. The ultrasound was ordered. I’ll admit, while I prayed through the entire procedure, my emotions leaked – a lot – down my face. The sweet ultrasound tech kept calm, reminding me to breathe.
The Lawman showing up unexpectedly, mid shift, to make sure I was OK, was an added gift. He was there to listen to the final news, just in case.
In the end, the worries were unfounded. I have a renegade lymph node in a random place. The radiologist said everything was fine. The “C” word was left unsaid. I was dismissed until next year.
I texted my warrior the news; she rejoiced with me, even though her news has not always been as good.
My initiation to the Sisterhood of the Squished Boobs was over, without further ado.
I’m grateful for those who prayed – and served as sounding boards – as I walked through the tests.
Have you joined the Sisterhood of the Squished Boobs? While it’s no walk in a bed of roses, I promise, your fears will be more painful than the actual reality.
Besides, the squish might just save your life – which is more important than anything else in the world.
Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun and Delaware County Journal. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at email@example.com or 918-786-2228.