It had been awhile since my last mammogram, too long according to some. Tuesday, at 3:10, I showed up to Evergreen Breast Center to have my boobs laid out on a clear plastic rectangle plate topped with another plastic plate which was cinched down until my boob was reduced to a painful pancake only to have this repeated a few more times. All this to see if there is a lump. So tight the plate is tightened that should there be a lump I would think it would pop and be squished to smithereens!
Like all women who enter the clinic, we are to remove any clothing above our waist and don a short one size fits all cape that closes with one snap in the front. No arms, just fabric. Thin cotton covering breasts of all sizes, shapes, and age. A lifted arm or shift in the seat and peek-a-boo. No one wants to look, to see.
Our clothes in small lockers, the key around our wrist. Funny, our shirts, blouses, and brassieres behind lock and key, as if that is what's valuable. It makes us feel better, as if we have some control. We don't.
But there we were, sitting, nine of us, waiting to be called back. We sat, side by side or across from each other; Sisters of the Perpetual Cape. When the door opens, names are called. Eyes look up to see who's next or who is coming back to unlock their clothes and go home.
I noticed one woman wearing a 3/4 length terry cloth robe. It stood out. Why did she have a robe? There were plenty of capes. Had her mammogram gone bad and more pictures need to be taken? Do you get a robe if that happens? Did she bring it herself? Too polite to ask, I wondered silently.
Some of us read, books or magazines, others watched My Fair Lady on television. Light-hearted Eliza Doolittle trying to be a lady, she was. As were we, bound together by possibility, or not. All knowing that statistics say one of us in that room is likely to have a lump. Prayers travel with each of us as we go through that door. Superheros in our capes.
The technicians are polite. Soft. They know. They see the films. They see the shadows. They know the numbers. They tell us to have a good day as we leave. Most of us will as we leave, only to return another day or year, still bound together; Sisters of the Perpetual Cape.