Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The TaTas Are Gonna Be Okay: A Healthy Jaded Update

Hello my darlings!

This random post is brought to you by my recent slew of doctor visits to make sure I didn't have breast cancer. Yeah, man, you read that correctly. Thankfully, everything is cool: there is no cancer in my breast meat and therefore no tough decisions need to be made. I just needed to write this out and release it from my brain. I guess that's why I maintain this URL--am I right??

Annoyed beyond belief.
But mostly scared
Anyways... so I had my very first mammogram shortly after my 40th birthday, and it wasn't so bad. They didn't squish me up as terribly as I imagined and the appointment didn't take too long. I thought it would be weird to have my breasts manhandled in that fashion, but you know what? I've been seeing an OB/GYN since I was 18; I'm used to having my parts manhandled by now.

After the exam, the technician advised me that I might be called back for a second mammogram, but that it's common so not to worry if I get that call. Of course, I got the call. My boobies were too "dense" so I needed an ultrasound + a second mammogram to see better. Annoying but I knew it was essential.

On my second exam, which consisted of a long ass wait and repeat visits to the mammogram room and an ultrasound, the doctor says, "There's a few spots we can't identify. We're going to need to do a needle biopsy. This is common and I'm sure it's nothing." CHILD. I hate when medical professionals say that shit: I'm sure it's nothing. Like, maybe to YOU because this is what you do all the live-long day. But this is all new to me. Save the platitudes for your momma.

So then came the needle biopsy last week. It's exactly what it sounds like (especially if you have your MD from TV dramas like I do): the doctor goes in through a tiny incision with a needle to biopsy whatever the spots or masses in my breasts are/were. There was Novocain involved. I was awake. I felt nothing and everything. It was preceded and followed by a few additional mammograms. I was cold, annoyed, and on the verge of tears.

The other women in the waiting area with me were split between survivors and women just there for routine mammograms. I just didn't want to be there among the women who'd lost their hair to chemo, and maybe even lost some parts to cancer. It was all too much. I can't even imagine what I would have done if it had gone the other way.

I started thinking about my breasts a lot. About how much I've defined myself by them. How their size has always been a running gag among family and friends. How the insecure teen in me always thinks that's the only attractive part of me: whatever my size I can always count on them to bring the boys to the yard.

And MY HAIR! I didn't want to lose not even a strand of my beautiful, messy, greying hair! It's just as much of an identifier for me as my breasts are, and it was breaking me down to think I could lose both. And then I started to feel petty and stupid and beat myself up for thinking of such trivial things in the face of cancer. But you know, it's not trivial. These things ARE important. These are MY breasts. This is MY hair. And it's not fair to lose it to stupid ass cancer.

Fast forward to now, I can count myself among the fortunate who are breast cancer-free. It doesn't run in my family and my mom and aunt had already reassured me that they've also had needle biopsies that turned out to be nothing more than calcium deposits or something like that, so there was an excellent chance I would be fine, too. But there's always that lingering doubt when you have an important test like that.

And you know, looking over all this I just read, I realized that none of my worries included how I would pay for any of this, because I have great insurance. My doctors are amazing. I can see specialists whenever for whatever for free. But what about women who can't afford private doctors? How can our elected officials think it's OK to defund such an important institution like Planned Parenthood, when those offices are sometimes the ONLY resources women (and men!) have for annual screenings?

I don't know, I'm rambling at this point. I'm just feeling a lot of things and I wish I had a bigger platform to spread awareness and encourage women to get annual checkups and look after their whole self: mind, body, and soul. Maybe one of you reading this have that kind of platform. Maybe you can spread the word on my (our) behalf. Keep your doctor appointments. Take care of yourself. Take care of your sisters. You're not alone.

*smooches...with a set of healthy breasts, thank goodness*
and now I can proceed with dressing inappropriately while I re-learn to appreciate my fun bags. OWWW!