There’s nothing quite like sitting in a room full of anxious women pretending to be nonchalant.
Around me this morning are about a dozen women, all of us waiting to go in for mammograms and ultrasounds. Some, like me, are there for regular standard checks. Others, I assume, are facing the particular terror of having found lumps or noticed irregularities. I’ve been there. On those occasions, I’ve sat here with fear gripping my throat.
Today we all sit here quietly, waiting for our names to be called, with the spectre of breast cancer hanging heavily over our heads. The many, many women we all know who have sat in waiting rooms just like this only to hear bad news. Celebrities. Friends. Mothers. Aunts. Acquaintances. Grandmothers. Fellow school mums. Neighbours. Sisters.
Sometimes it feels like breast cancer is an epidemic.
We’re all in our 40s in the waiting room this morning. One woman knits. Another reads a magazine. One has brought in some work and taps diligently away at her laptop while the rest of us peer at our phones with distracted urgency. It’s 8:45am.
There are tea and coffee facilities and Tina Arena sings “I’m in chains” softly through the speaker system. It’s a nice place as waiting rooms go but nobody wants to be here. (Post continues after gallery.)
I have a weird relationship with medical tests. I sort of love having them even though the lead-up and the tests themselves make me unbearably anxious. I love the heady flush of relief I get afterwards – assuming all is well. Like the endorphins after exercise. Hate the exercise itself. Love the aftermath buzz.
And so it is.
I’ve been to this clinic once before. My friend works here although I’m not seeing her because that might be weird, her feeling my boobs. I have a mammogram and ultrasound each year. I’ve been doing this since I was about 37 when a doctor doing a routine breast check after my pap smear found a lump that worried her and sent me away for further testing.
It turned out to be… my rib.
I have a new GP now.
But still, I got into the habit of having regular mammograms and I just kept going.