Mammogram Memories

Tomorrow is the big day.   As a child years a measured by birthdays.  As a woman over 40, years are measured by mammograms.

I am one of those whose family history leaves me wondering every year– Is this my year?  Thankfully, so far though the radiologists have been challenged and I’ve been called back, every year the tests have come out clear.

I’ve talked with other women who’ve also lost their mothers to breast cancer at young ages.  We share the common fear of the mammogram.  Some are so frightened that they’ve actually passed out in the exam room!  The women that I know recognize the mammogram as their weapon against their greater fear, cancer.  So, we buckle down and force ourselves in for the annual boob squish and pray.

I am reminded though how lucky I am at this time of year.  My mom got sick when I was about six or seven.  She died when I was twelve.  I have few memories of her being sick over those six years.  I remember her wigs, her prosthesis, and the scarves she wore when she didn’t want to wear a wig.

I had the good fortune to learn about beauty and strength from a woman who left one of her breasts on the nightstand and was usually bald around the house.  I remember, as a little girl, playing in my parents bedroom.  The prosthesis held a certain fascination.  The other thing that I loved was her perfume.  I still have that old bottle.  It’s empty now.  It’s been that way for years. But I can just twist the cap a little and still smell the woman she turned into every Sunday morning.

I sometimes wish I had that prosthesis, a sort of reminder of the woman she was all the rest of the time, the one who taught me to be strong, to recognize the internal nature of beauty, to care for myself, and to care for those around me as well.  Ah well, the perfume bottle will do and remind me to be thankful for time with her and because of her.


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