Pink is everywhere this month -- pink ribbons, pink hats -- even NFL players are wearing pink cleats -- to lovingly remind women to get their annual mammograms. We need to be coaxed because there isn't a woman in the world who looks forward to it -- and I'm not just talking about those awful robes they make us wear. The procedure itself is not only painful and a bit demoralizing, but the experience is downright scary. In fact, the only thing scarier is waiting for the results -- or, even worse, waiting too long for the appointment and getting bad news that could have been averted.
Many women (myself included) find it easier to go to the appointment with a friend. About ten years ago my best (and very funny) friend and I decided to make an annual date of it. And we've kept to that plan. We block out the afternoon, head off to the lab together, then huddle next to each other in our paper gowns -- all the while cracking jokes about those freezing machines that will soon be "embracing" us (even though embracing is a very kind word for what actually feels like a train wreck across your chest).
So far, the news has always been good for my friend and me, and with great relief, we traditionally go out for lunch afterward, have a much needed glass of wine (it's medicinal, we insist!) and, of course, make more jokes.
Yet as comforting as it is to be together, it's even more comforting knowing that we're being watchful -- about each other, and about our own lives. For all our joking, we both feel that we have some semblance of power over this scary thing by taking charge of our bodies and our health. And we know that our conscientiousness brings with it a great reward -- the possibility that, if there is a detection of anything wrong in our breasts, we can head it off at the pass.
For me, the ability to laugh at something is the best way to get my anxiety off my chest (so to speak). So I was delighted last year -- just before my annual mammogram date -- when a friend sent me this very funny essay called "How To Prepare for Your Mammogram." Most guys won't get this, but any woman who has ever suffered through a mammogram will truly LOL. I've pasted it below. Take it with you when you're getting ready for your appointment. Trust me, you'll laugh so hard your robe will crinkle.
If you're not sure if a woman you care about has had a mammogram lately, why not make a best friend date with her? Tell her that she looks fabulous in tissue paper, and that you actually read somewhere that getting your boobs smashed between two cold metal plates burns extra calories.
And tell her that you can't imagine life without her.
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HOW TO PREPARE FOR A MAMMOGRAM (many thanks to HysterSisters.com)
Many women are afraid of their first mammogram, and even if they have had them before, there is fear. But there is no need to worry. By taking a few minutes each day for a week preceding the exam and doing the following practice exercises, you will be totally prepared for the test, and best of all, you can do these simple practice exercises right in your home.
EXERCISE 1: Open your refrigerator door, and insert one breast between the door and the main box. Have one of your strongest friends slam the door shut as hard as possible and lean on the door for good measure. Hold that position for five seconds. Repeat (just in case the first time wasn't effective).
EXERCISE 2: Visit your garage at 3 a.m. when the temperature of the cement floor is just perfect. Take off all your clothes and lie comfortably on the floor sideways with one breast wedged under the rear tire of the car. Ask a friend to slowly back the car up until your breast is sufficiently flattened and chilled. Switch sides, and repeat for the other breast.
EXERCISE 3: Freeze two metal bookends overnight. Strip to the waist. Invite a stranger into the room. Have the stranger press the bookends against either side of one of your breasts and smash the bookends together as hard as he/she can. Set an appointment with the stranger to meet next year to do it again. You are now properly prepared!