“die, bunny, die”
Thank the Lord, Almighty I don’t have Pamela Anderson breasts. My all-natural, sagging mahumbas served me well the morning of Friday, April 1, 2005, as the technician gently maneuvered each of my mammaries onto the compression machine, one at a time.
I had several of my close friends do a prayerful number on me. And, as the top plastic plate clamped down, I thought of other friends, my mom, her best friend once, the one who died the summer of ’74, the wife of my husband’s cousin Kenny, Honeycat of Talk! Talk!, GH’s Monica Quartermaine--and what they went through.
After my technician, gee I forgot her name, sorry, (she reminded me of Melissa Etheridge, ironically enough) went off with the x-rays to make sure she took them right, I grabbed a fake silicone breast from off the counter and started pressing like mad. Ew, granite-hard nuggets rested at the bottom, giving me chills. My poor mother, she still suffers from the after-effects of her lumpectomy, and I’m not referring to the dry heaves. Her right arm has never been the same since, it’s always sore to painful, puffier than the left, impossible to lift over her head. She’s had to change her diet to a lower cholesterol level, and every time she gets a common cold, she fears for her life.
*“No worry, honey. It ‘cause I took all those hormones, and used to smoke. You never goin’ get this,” my mom told me the other week over the phone, in her endearingly broken English.
“A Guide to Breast Health Care,” a 64-page pamphlet I spied next to the fake boob on the counter read otherwise. Reading its tremendously scary pages had me convinced the FDA-regulation letter due me in two to three days detailing the results of my first mammogram would be devastating.
The risk factors are high if I’m: a) a woman, b) a woman over 20, c) a woman with a family history of breast cancer, d) a woman with big tits, e) a woman who gave birth to her first baby after 30… among others. Working in my favor: a. I don’t consume alcohol, b. I don’t smoke, c. I don’t have menopause, d. I breast-fed my baby, e. I am not on the pill, f. I am not obese (shut up), g. I don’t have biopsy-confirmed atypical hyperplasia.
The way the pamphlet puts it, though, anybody, even men and women under 30, can get breast cancer. Can you imagine the torture for a man with man breasts? Pull those nipples out. “Hey, it’s not as bad as the prostate exam,” my husband Eddie piped up.
I’m getting superstitious just writing about this.
Lately, as of about a week and a half, my left boob’s been itching off and on, sometimes my right (on the other hand, if Eddie licks the nipples, I can almost reach orgasm). So of course I worried about cancer. I checked the Internet for clues related to the itching, as I remembered several years ago, when I had a naturopathic for a primary care “physician” … Kim Kelly told me that itchy boobs could be a sign of breast cancer, and to always check it out. The Internet sites sort of reassured me that unless the itchy breast skin was enlarged, raised, different from the other, dimpled in any way, that it was probably just eczema. I had a breast exam done too by my ob-gyn’s nurse practitioner a week ago, thumbs up.
Now, fingers crossed.
The day before my first mammogram – I am 40, you know – I consulted with my friend from church choir, Terrie, who’d been having them for years. She tried to comfort me by giving me way too much info (as had Trek online). The second she mentioned plates compressing and breasts squishing, I went “La! LA! LALA!” Laughing, she got serious, “No really, it’s not that bad, just about 10 minutes.” I shot back, “Is there pain?” She smiled, “Well, yeah, some. It depends. To me, it’s not as bad as a pap smear.” “A pap smear?! I love those, they’re a breeze.” “There ya go. You want me to go with you tomorrow morning?”
After the dreaded mammogram, I came home a half-hour later, worked on some columns for some online sites, did the treadmill, and updated the husband on how the procedure went. Eddie acted all casual, like it was no big deal, just me going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, the prostate exam remark. But I know him better than that; he doesn’t want a big deal, he fears the unknown, the what-if come true, losing me forever.
Not as much as I fear it. I suppose I am ready. I’ll get to see my father, Eddie’s parents, Bobby and Mark again. I’ll find out who that boy was who died before me and stands watching guard from heaven, the way the Vietnamese psychic foretold in 1988 and 1992, along with everything else that came true, give or take a few years. I’ll eat Tutti-Fruity ice cream with Jesus, and be muses for my favorite souls back on earth.
But I’d rather stay here a bit longer. NBC’s new British rip-off, The Office, just premiered the other week and I can’t wait to see “The Diversity” episode. For starters.
Even if it’s only to gripe as I do about the holidays masquerading as department store commercials. Maybe it’s only me, but every year, the commercials increase, the tone turns demanding, the hype incessant, as if corporations and companies eagerly look forward to each and every holiday, big and small, just to brandish the latest wares for all-American consumerism, mass consumption, don’t think about why.
The only drawback to my taking up the treadmill daily is having to zone out to the million commercials sandwiched between every break. There used to be three commercials tops, in between. Now, there are eight to nine, if I’m lucky… usually the same three boring ones about staying fit with this gym, that pill and some other elliptical exercise machine. Since most of the programs I watch while on the treadmill are on cable’s SoapNet, I don’t even get to see my favorite Special K Ipanema chick in the teeny tiny bikini and the overflowing butt cheeks anymore.
Of all the holidays in the entire year, Easter should remain sacrosanct, don’t you think? Leave it alone, Jesus Christ rose from His painful crucifixion on that, the third day. The last thing I need or want to see bombarding me at every turn is commercialism pimping low cellular phone rates, white bunny baskets with pink eyes and those god awfully overrated fluff balls of sugar, Peeps… on this the holiest of holies.
As a mother, naturally I’m gripped by guilt at how far I should go to entertain my little one with American tradition, hiding hard-boiled eggs that have been dipped in dye and decorated with stickers throughout the house and outside in the yard, only to have four of ‘em found and the eight leftover rotting away in darkened corners for 11 months until I locate the stench. Yuck to hard-boiled eggs anyway.
We missed a neighbor kid’s Easter egg hunt by about five minutes, because we’d just returned from singing (me in the choir) and playing piano/organ (Eddie in the band) at our church services – two on Saturday, two on Sunday. I dragged our son James, 3-going-on-50, clutching his new space ship transformer toys (so I caved and bought an Easter basket quickie at the nearby QFC the night before), up to Daphne’s, where she and the other little ones proudly displayed their finds, the little good luck charm cats renowned in Japan and China, plastic colored eggs filled with chocolate and a few of those hard-boiled eggs. Kevin, not the most tactful kid on the block, and not surprisingly, the most picked on, said in his most sickly-sweet voice, “Aw, I feel so sorry for you James. You missed out on a cool Easter egg hunt.” I chimed in proudly, “James doesn’t care, he scored himself a cooler bunch of toys!” James smiled, showing the transformers off and shrugging.
We also had to rush over to a church friend’s house to celebrate Easter dinner, ham, salmon, Eddie’s Caesar, Jim and Bev’s au gratin potatoes, a triple-layer sickly sweet strawberry box cake. There, Frank and Linda said they don’t buy ready-made baskets for their kids, they home-make ‘em. Hmm.
Because next year, for sure, I’m gonna join James in an Easter Egg Hunt, giving the hard-boiled eggs to Eddie, and put together a special Easter Basket just for our son’s personal favorites: some Matchbox cars, a chocolate bunny, an Easter egg sugar cookie and NO PEEPS.
* I just got a call from Swedish Ballard’s Women’s Imaging Center this morning, April 4. I have to go back in on Wednesday for further tests, maybe an ultra-sound. The doctor who examined my first x-rays saw something in my left breast. He thinks it’s normal, but wants to be sure. I, however, am not.
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