This Years Topless Photo Shoot

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"Can I help you?" She asked. "Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes," I said. "I'm here for my topless photoshoot."

She laughed harder than I had anticipated, which made me start to laugh. Partially out of nervousness and partially because I love laughing with people. Plus, anyone who thinks I'm funny is my friend.

"Oh, my gosh! We're going to have so much fun today! Thank you for making me laugh. I love your attitude," she said. 

She handed me paperwork and with a signature and a smile, I didn't even have a chance to sit down before being guided to the back of the rooms. I was given a key attached to a CD that matched the small locker I was assigned for my belongings.

"Once you're undressed from the waist up, come on out to the room across the hall and we'll get started," she said.

I did as I was told, undressed, and put on a hideous robe that was a waste of time putting on. I stepped out of my cubby from behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz. "Are you ready?" she asked. "I see you've been here before. I heard you're ready for your topless photoshoot" "Yes, I'm ready. And yes, I come every year," I told her.  For the next ten minutes, we chatted all about life in Reno, NV, my tattoos (being topless meant she could see them all), how far things have come in the last 18+ years since my first topless photoshoot. Which is a good thing.

Then I realized that this year - since the pandemic - it was more difficult to see the doctor and all my appointments had been pushed back, Where I would usually be having this visit in June, it was already October.

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October is breast cancer awareness month and here I was bonding with my amazing nurse who had a great sense of humor, getting my topless photos done. Not in the way you might have thought. Not in a way that felt sexy. More like a cold, hard platform with an average of 20 pounds of pressure. 

Today I was getting my mammogram. 

Two days later, my all-women running team did a run for breast cancer - made more poignant since I had just visited the imaging center for myself. 

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Prior to my first mammogram years ago, I had heard horror stories about having one done and I have to say I entered the room for the first time with trepidation. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined, and since then it's simply one thing I get done every year that's a minor inconvenience.

My mother-in-law had a full mastectomy for breast cancer and didn't skip a beat with one breast, and I lost my Aunt Muriel last year to cancer. Years ago when she had a mastectomy, we discussed in depth her entire process. It was enough to know that if I was ever diagnosed, I would elect for a full mastectomy. Although to some that seems drastic, to me it means having a lower stress level.

A few years ago, a mammogram detected two lumps in my left breast. It's terrifying to hear, and the 3 days until my ultrasound seemed to take forever. I was blessed with a radiologist who believed in having his patients wait in the exam room and coming in to talk with them, as opposed to making them wait days until the report was available. He told me he wasn't sure what the lumps were, but they did not look like cancer. He was so certain that I was cancer-free, he scheduled me to come in again 3-months later for another ultrasound. It went well  - since the lumps didn't change in size, so I was bumped to 6-month intervals for an additional 18-months. He mentioned that some women are so uncomfortable with the thought of having a lump, they elect to have it removed regardless of whether or not it's malignant. I decided my lumps and I were fine, and for the last ten years, they are expected to show up on my mammogram as something normal for me. 

Happy breast cancer awareness month ladies! Make sure to get your topless photoshoot done - early detection saves lives.

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