Not to brag, but I have dense fibrous breasts. However, dense breasts are 6 times more likely to develop cancer. Last year, I found a lump in my breast and was ordered to have a mammogram and an ultrasound. The lump turned out to be a cyst, but they found other “things” and were like, this is so fun, why don’t you come back in six months! The experience cost me over $500, which I contested, to which Kaiser informed me that I had a “diagnosis” of fibroid cysts, which half of all women will probably experience. So, essentially, I was diagnosed with being a woman.
I don’t know much about breast medical research, which seems to put me on par with contemporary medicine. But I do know that my breasts are flesh and blood and not meant to be treated like play dough or whatever malleable substance some neo-nazi imagined when he devised the medieval torture devices/panini maker that passes for a medical exam called a mammogram. I know this might be shocking, but mammogram machines were developed 100% by men. They are also evidence of the absurd level of tolerance women have for pain and discomfort. I am not blaming women, as I, too, have been unreasonably cool with gifts from The Patriarchy like toxic tampons and threading…but as of yesterday, I draw the line at anything that treats my flesh like silly putty.
Not only are they painful and humiliating, but mammogram machines result in a high number of false negatives for women with dense breasts. Not to mention the whole radiation thing. Isn’t that what causes cancer? None of it makes sense, but neither do school shootings or the fact that Apple and Verizon have communication issues. We live in an insane world and if there is one thing I have learned since the election, THERE ARE NO ADULTS IN AMERICA.
I came back six months later and the lump had disappeared. Why? How? Nobody knows, but, sadly, nobody cares. Lady parts do weird things. It takes caring about women to understand the changes in our bodies, and who has the time, when you have nifty 50-year-old inaccurate machine that -— on some level — reminds “medical practitioners” that torture isn’t just for the CIA. (And, yes, I do believe that somebody somewhere is jerking off to the image of flattened boobs…)
I can see a day when mammograms are treated like a spa day. But no matter how much flute music and cucumber water you give me, I am not squashing myself into that thing ever again.
Kaiser has reimbursed me for some of the costs of the ultrasound that, while expensive, at least doesn’t traumatize me physically. (I do have to listen to the technician’s self-talk, “What is this?!) I am not done publicly shaming Kaiser for flagrantly profiting off of a very real threat to my health. You will never convince me that Kaiser gives a crap about actual cancer prevention. But the least they could do, is advance their medical practices beyond the archaic stone age of blood letting.