"Relax, Ma'am" said the nice lady who was administering my mammogram this morning at Cedar's. I felt perfectly relaxed as my breast was being squeezed into a flat piece of spam between two clear plastic screens. "Relax and don't breathe" she calls out from behind her computer screen, having arranged my heretofore round breast on the machine and bent my arm at an unnatural angle around the side of it to grip onto the plastic railing. "Bend your head to the right," she says, "that's right." I have a burgundy cotton cape draped around my waist, fashioned into a makeshift sarong. "That look nice, Ma'am, on your slim waist," she says and I notice that that the lenses in her glasses are thick as milk bottles. I'm holding in my stomach and leaning my chest into the machine and trying to make witty banter at the same time.
"Relax" she says again, and I realize this might be her go-to phrase. "I am relaxed," I say. "I'm English. This is as relaxed as we get." She laughs at this. "Oh I need a good laugh in the morning," she chortles, unaware that I was deadly serious.
When you make an appointment for a mammogram in Los Angeles, particularly West Los Angeles, and specifically in Beverly Hills, you are asked first your date of birth and then "Do you have any implants?" This amuses me and I say something like "Not yet." Apparently over 50% of the Beverly Hills female population does. But I asked my breast technician how they x-ray breasts with implants. "Oh you have to be very careful, you can't press down too hard." Not like the sandwich press technique they used on me, then.
The machines are new, only a year old, and everything is now digital. A couple of clicks of the mouse and all of my pictures from the last five years were retrieved. I walked in at 8:00am and was out by 8:20am. Fake boobs aside, I am very fortunate to live where I do.
Do go have a mammogram: It's very easy and far, far less painful than your friends would have you believe. Remember, early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. For more information, do click here for the wonderful Susan G Komen Foundation, which has contributed enormously to awareness of this insidious disease.