A Tiny Sanctuary: The Mammogram Dressing Room

Once you’ve had breast cancer, there is no such thing as a routine mammogram. Maybe it is routine to the medical team.  Maybe it is routine to others, but not to you. Today, I had my every six month ritual of driving to the place, checking in, waiting, changing in that tiny dressing room, waiting, the actual mammogram and then more waiting.

For the first time since my diagnosis four years ago, I decided to be a big girl and go alone.  My husband reluctantly agreed. When I was driving there, overcome with anxiety and internal drama, tears started flowing and I realized maybe being a big girl was overrated. At the exact moment, I wheeled in to the parking lot, I received a text from my friend Rhonda who was diagnosed at the same exact time as me, with the same exact thing. She knows there is no such thing as a routine mammogram. Her words were a holy, well-timed balm: “Still saying payers. I know how anxious you are.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Feel God’s presence.” I gathered myself, dried my tears and went in.

I tried to tell myself all the good things about mammograms: at least there is an easy, sort of painless way to have this checked out twice a year; at least they don’t weigh you beforehand; at least they are nice there; their wifi password is peaceofmind; they have peppermints; previous cancer patients get to find out that day if they are okay; I always have a good, gentle caring technician who asks me about 700 times if I’m okay.

Once I was ushered into the little dressing room, I realized that was my tiny, every six months, sanctuary, the shelf you lay your clothes on, my altar. Before the mammogram, my prayers were for peace, calm, reassurance; afterwards, it was the place I could cry tears of relief and joy and whisper thank you’s to God and savor, for that moment, my good health,

When I was checking out, the receptionist told me, “Girl, when you were going in, you looked like you were walking the green mile.” I said, “You’re pretty observant, it is a scary walk back there for me.”  There is no such thing as a routine mammogram, but I’m so grateful for it and for the tiny sanctuary moments along the way.

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