Having recently turned 50 (argh) the French state sent me an invitation for a free mammo. I took this very seriously and went in for a check up.
Breast cancer, the second commonest cancer worldwide (1.4 million new cases: 11% of all global cancers and 360,000 deaths), is the commonest potentially fatal cancer of women. There is currently a greater than 4-fold variation in age-standardized incidence rates between countries with the lowest (East and Southern Africa) and countries with the highest (Western Europe, North America and Australia/New Zealand).
We all have friends who have had scares and ops and I am the first to step up. But, I have to honest, I really hate mammos (who doesn't!), and frankly, they scare me. I have over-read about the risks of over-radiation with testing and over-prevention. In the end, who cares, I feel it's better to check myself out.I don't believe our health is something to play with.
The new testing system in France is the Rolls Royce of testing. You go in for your test and it gets sent to a second neutral Dr in another part of France who re-checks your results and sends them back to you for more or no further testing. Finally, my tax money going somewhere methinks.
Today was the day. I rolled up to my x-ray clinic. I was taken out the back to the "boob press" and had the full monty. It was as awful as ever, apart from the wonderful female technician who told me she hated this too, - the ever painful horizontal and vertical squeezing and all standing up ..."chin up to the ceiling please, pretend you're a model" said the technician as I stood for about a minute with my legs just about buckling under me in pain.
The next step was a bit of a surprise. I was sent through to a second room, boobs blushing from the previous onslaught, for the Dr to come in.. He, yes a man, rolled in, telling me my "clichés" were perfect but that a scan was necessary for a double check. "Just lie back and relax" he said as he squirted freezing cold lube directly on my nipples ( I am now blushing head to toe as my nipples rose to the event!)...He basically told me I had great boobs for my age, which made me blush even further to parts I hadn't known existed, and did a full scan, giving me a full google earth of my boobs and then congratulated me, " je vous felicite Madame" on my booby density and went on to explain about density and age then gave me jolly good rubber gloved boob massage. By now I was about 6 feet under the floor boards with anglo saxon embarrassment. Really, he insisted, great boobs, and jumped up from his stool with such velocity that it fell to the floor and told me he looked forward to another rendezvous in two years. I felt less enthusiastic.
For what it's worth, in terms of health, all fantastic. Plus, it cost nothing! I left the clinic feeling 10 years younger and half porn star. However, on a more serious note, thank you France for taking womens' health seriously...I'd just LOVE a woman Dr next time please. Please!!