Posted by: jeanne | May 22, 2009

my latest mammogram

i went in; they squished my left breast. squished from the top and bottom, and then sideways.they offered me the two for one deal but i said no thanks.

it’s a conspiracy against the dignity of women very much like the conspiracy not to put pockets in women’s clothing.

don’t let me get started.


i was surprised to see a big screen monitor behind me when she released the machine’s grip on my left breast. it showed this lovely planet-like shadow with lines and fibers running all over it.

my breast.

i asked where i could get a copy of my film, and she didn’t understand what i was talking about because patients never ask for copies of their xrays, they go straight to PROFESSIONAL people for consideration and we’ll mail you a copy, well, we’ll mail your doctor a copy when we’re finished with the report.

i told her i was an artist. in fact i’ve been making paintings of planets lately, which are very breastlike, and seeing my own breast up there on the monitor excited me – you have no idea.

i’ve been drawn to painting planets, moons, round things in space. i’ve done four or five since the beginning of the year. and to me the semblance to breasts is inescapable, so i’ve been naming them accordingly: the great red nipple of jupiter; earth and moon, metaphor for breast cancer, things like that. but what better way to get the point across than by doing a picture on the same scale (4’x6′) of my xray?

how do i get a copy of my xray? she mumbled something vague. records, down the hall to the left and keep going.

so i went home. i can use one off the internet, or i can ask for several years ago’s xray and use that.


so anyway i’m sitting at home several days later when my medical person calls me and tells me to go in and do follow up things. i say okay and ask her to send me the results, so she does. you have to ask for these things. they won’t tell you anything unless you ask.

it says they’ve found mixed fatty fibroglandular breast tissue with predominant amount of fatty replacement, which sounds i don’t know normal to me.

then it says. there is a new, 7mm nodular density located 12 cm directly posterior to the nipple on the craniocaudal projection (the squeezing from top and bottom). this is not identified on teh oblique view. no suspicious microcalcifications are seen.

so i’m going to have to go in for 3 hours on june 5, several weeks from now.

i don’t feel anything special behind my nipple. on the other hand, i’ve been feeling phantom tumors for 5 years now that just happened not to be phantom a few times.

so who knows. and i’m not particularly worried about it. i’ve been feeling for many months that it’s only a matter of time before it’s back, so i’m kind of expecting, any day now, to be told they’ve confirmed a recurrence or a metastasis.

i’ve written before, i think, about how comforting it is to know the general details of how you’re going to die. okay, i could still get hit by a bus, and there’s always swine flu, but in general i can plan on being felled by cancer’s complications, or the complications of cancer treatment, which are not at all the same things.

maybe this is the start.

but i feel that with every twinge, which makes this time nothing special. just like having cancer is nothing special. dying is nothing special. living is nothing special.

so what’s the point?

that’s the point. i remember jumping up and down with my hand in the air yelling pick me pick me when they asked for volunteers to be born into a body.

that makes it all worth it, even the struggle, the pain, the agony, the loss, the death. even the death is worth it. death is definitely worth it, just for the parting lesson. i remember from last times.

but i won’t go there. most of you don’t want to hear my ramblings about my past lives. maybe in the novel i want to write – a fictionalized autobiography. i’ve started my notebook on it, who knows, if i get another five years, i may end up finishing it. it would be appropriately published posthumously, and then make a mint for my relatives and the abuse charity.

anyway, i’m alive for today. and for today i sat in front of the computer reading up on swine flu (i’m hooked, it’s all true, and it’s going to be a wicked ride), then went downstairs and painted on my planet venus painting, took the dogs for walks with jim, ate and sat reading on the porch while we have our first (unacknowledged – is everyone having conspiracies at the moment?) tropical storm swirl by.

i love my life.


  1. Jeanne I don’t want it to be anything. I want it all to be nothing.

    How is your daughter and grandson?

    I pray for you all the time, along with myself.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

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