By Bob Noble
This is intended for the ‘My Turn’ column of Newsweek. I found no other e-mail addresses, so I send it to you for forwarding and hopeful inclusion in a future issue of your fine periodical.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH A MAMMOGRAM
I am a 49 year old white male … 245 lbs, 6’1” … uh, not physically active. There, I said it. I have a sedentary job, driving charter buses out of Palm Springs, CA. Since retiring from the military 9 years ago, I’ve sorta let my body go. This May (2011), I was surprised to find a large lump under my left armpit.
At first, I passed it off as just a fatty deposit, nothing more. Eventually, though, it started to hurt. Not all the time, but when the pain came, I took notice. When I asked my loving wife to look at the lump, she actually gasped! (Oops, maybe this is more serious than I thought…). At her insistence, I made an appointment with our family physician.
The P.A. (physician’s assistant) is the one who took my case; a perky, petite, no-nonsense female. She examined the lump, asked several questions, then mentioned that my left breast looked about 30% larger to her than my right breast. (Uh, have I gotten large enough to have breasts?!) With her medical experience, she suggested I get a couple different procedures done, just in case. To ease my fears, she mentioned it could be anything from an inflamed sweat gland to an enlarged lymph node to … male breast cancer. The 2 tests (a mammogram and an ultrasound) would help rule out male breast cancer. I have just returned from the torture that is passed off as a mammogram.
Ladies, I tip my hat to you. I’m not sure how you can do this procedure on a yearly basis, knowing full well the incredible pain that awaits you. I have just endured my first (and, I pray, ONLY) mammogram. Having completed this procedure, I can say with only a slight exaggeration that I would enjoy a vasectomy, … without anesthesia, rather than endure another mammogram. It begs the question: who tolerates a mammogram better? The buxom female or the slightly-built lady? I have NEVER felt such pain as having my breast tissue squashed between 2 plates of glass, for the purpose of taking pictures. At no time did they mention whether they wanted wallet-sized or 8x10 glossies! Just when you think the attendant has mashed your breast tissue as flat as humanly possible, they ratchet the vice about 3 notches tighter, then have the nerve to tell you to not move or breathe.
Male breast cancer is a very real, though rare, disease. I’m happy that my P.A. was willing to take precautions for my health. I only trust that it is something far less severe than male breast cancer. I hope to never experience a mammogram again as long as I live. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to put 2 ice packs on my chest…