Let's face it, women our age do not have it easy. First off, we are dealing with the onset of menopause and have become sweaty versions of Sybil. Some of us are dealing with divorces and Giselles. We are dating again, desperately trying to shove ourselves into skinny jeans tucked into knee high boots that feel like tourniquets. Our kids are leaving the nest or worse yet, moving back home. Now we are hit with the latest medical warning, "Breast Cancer Risk Rises with Moderate Alcohol Use."* This is where I draw the line.
When I first saw the headline, I thought, "Well I'm ok, I surpassed moderate drinking years ago," but then I realized they meant EVEN just 3 drinks a week (A WEEK??) puts you in danger. To understand how I feel about this latest discovery you have to know how I feel about my alcohol and my mammograms. Basically, my alcohol helps me prepare for my mammogram. The mammogram invokes a level of fear in me that most people reserve for waking up to find burglars in their room or the oxygen masks falling down in flight.
A few weeks before d-day, I start to panic, and obsess on why this test is being performed. Um excuse me, could you take a look and see if I have CANCER infiltrating my boobs? This isn't just one of those silly tests like the bone density to see if our bones are getting brittle (they are,) or the hormone blood test to see if our estrogen is depleting, (it is.) This is heavy shit.
The night before the mammogram, I start my bargaining with G-D. OK, just let me have a normal mammogram and I promise to do more cardio: okay any cardio. I promise not to be so fixated on my looks, I promise to start taking calcium pills. I promise to start using fat free milk in my Grande vanilla lattes and I promise to start using chemical free deodorant even though we know it doesn't work. Then, I have a few glasses of wine, watch some mindless Real Housewives on tv, and drift off into a blessed state of oblivion where all boobs are healthy.
I have no problem with the actual procedure. Many women complain of unendurable pain when their breasts are smashed down to the height of a pita bread but I'm fine with it. These things have been around the block a time or two, and compared with small humans using them for food, this is nothing.
After each picture I search the tech's face for signs of concern. If she has to do retakes I grill her for a reason. "Why, what do you see? Is it bad? What is it? What? What?"
So far, I've been lucky. Usually a week later, I get a letter congratulating me on seemingly normal breasts, albeit with the warning that this could change at any time and to remain ever vigilant. Still, it's time to celebrate. This calls for a drink!!
*Bloomberg Business Week, November 9, 2011