Why a Mammogram?

House phone rings while I’m on the couch in my living room, sipping coffee, and reading my Bible. I allow the message machine to answer.

“Hello, Karen. This is Patty from the Women’s Imaging Center. Please call our office. We need to schedule another mammogram.”

My pulse quickens.

Another? What’s wrong with the mammogram I had two days ago?

I walk to the kitchen and replay the message.

It’s probably nothing, but then again…

There’s a reason October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Pink memorabilia such as t-shirts, water bottles, and bandannas are on sale in retail stores. And every grocery store transaction affords me the opportunity to donate dollars towards “Hope for a Cure.”

More than once this month, I gave money in memory of two friends who died from breast cancer, and one who survived.

Because I witnessed their battle for life, I refuse to gamble with my health. Each year, I have a mammogram. I’d rather give blood than have my breasts flattened like pancakes, but early detection increases survival.  

Last week, I went for my annual mammogram. I joked with the technologist; asked for an 8 x 10 copy while she placed my breast on a platform and lowered another platform from above, until there was enough compression to make my eyes bulge. As the digital image of my breast was taken, she told me, “Hold your breath.”

Part of me always fails to breathe again until my test results come back normal.

Even now, as I dial the Imaging Center, I have to remind myself to breathe deep. Ignore the warm tingling on the back of my neck.

Patty is just the messenger. There’s empathy in her voice, but no explanation as she schedules another mammogram.

“Have a nice weekend,” she says, before hanging up.

Sure thing.

I slump on the couch, swallow lukewarm coffee, hoping to drown the worst-case scenarios percolating in my head.

My Bible is open to Psalm 121, the place I paused when the phone rang. “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.”  

I lift up my eyes as I touch my right breast; the one in question.

And wait between today’s imaginary what ifs and the reality of next week’s test results.

Assured that even in this circumstance, God knows, He is my help ….

Even when “what ifs” happen.

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