I’m in the waiting room at the Women’s Diagnostic Imaging Centre for my six-month follow-up mammogram. I just slipped on the soft greenish cotton cross-over top and then envisioned the room full of women watching the Australian Today Show as dressed for a day in a North Korean work camp. Never mind our makeup, styled hair, corpulence and the flat screen TV to entertain us, our garments are for torturous work. We will be probed, stretched out and twisted with our breasts smashed against the glass and metal. All in the name of preventing future torture at the hands of cancer.
During my very short visit with my father last December, I asked him about our family health history. His memory is amazingly detailed but I cannot get him to document the past. He regaled me with a horrid story about my great-aunt who was dead by her mid-thirties from breast cancer. She had refused an amputation to save her life and when she finally changed her mind it was too late. Medicine wasn’t so advanced in the 1960s. The same disease killed my grandmother when she was 54 and I was 8.
I’m now routinely being followed as suspicious spots appeared on my first exam. Today I get to help trial a new imaging machine with the Philips rep in the room talking the technician through the process. So much for work-camp analogies – this is a high-tech battle zone.