Flat Stanley is the tale of a young boy who is accidentally squished “as flat as a pancake” when a bulletin board falls on him. Stanley is very, very flat but otherwise fine. A collection of stories go on to tell how Stanley discovers some real advantages to being flat.
I have my own theory.
Flat Stanley got squished in a mammogram machine.
I am a
firm (scratch that) staunch believer in this theory because last Thursday, I got stuck in one. Just call me Flat Katy.
A recent article about our new Mommyhood, WV blogger, Amy Gannon, caused me to turn my office upside down in search of a nearly year-old order for a mammogram. I should have had it done immediately following my annual exam, but after being in full glory for 15 minutes, I wanted to be left alone. So, I filed it in one of my many in-boxes and forgot about it. Then, I read Monica Orosz’s story about Amy’s breast cancer battle, and then I read about Hollywood reporter, Guiliana Rancic’s recent diagnosis, and then I started to panic.
And I should be worried. My mother died of lung cancer, but it had spread to her breast. She died four short weeks after receiving the news. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a radical mastectomy in the late 1970s. She was left with a scar that stretches from the front of her chest to her back. Lymph nodes and muscle were taken, as was much of her health due to experimental chemotherapy and radiation treatments. A few years ago, my father’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she only recently learned that she was free and clear of all signs of the disease.
Worry metastasized throughout my body. I simply had to do this — because dammit — I’m a mother and my girls need me.
One of my best friends is the marketing director for Thomas and St. Francis hospitals, and she has put together a brilliant ad campaign to encourage women to think pink and “get ‘em checked.” She and another dear friend went to Thomas’ Imaging Center for their scans, posting on Facebook that it wasn’t a big deal at all.
However, the threat of breast cancer is a big deal. Walk-ins are welcome at the Imaging Center, so I decided that if I could find my doctor’s order then it was the sign I needed to get ‘em checked. I located it, still folded neatly in the original envelope, waiting to be delivered to the appropriate party.
When I checked in, I presented my order, my driver’s license and my insurance card. I verified my address, telephone number and date of birth. A hospital ID bracelet was taped around my wrist, and I was sent back to the ladies’ waiting room. Within ten minutes, I was given a warmed hospital gown and shown to a dressing area, where I was told to remove my deodorant because the formulas contain aluminum (this in and of itself probably causes cancer).
I stuck my arms through the gown turned backward, tying each string like I was trussing a turkey. I returned to the waiting room until my name was called, which was before the first commercial break of Regis and Kelly.
Greeted by a friendly lady who would be “taking my pictures today”, I walked into a room that was outfitted with a mammography machine and laptop computers. She was training a new mammogram technician on this particular morning (Great. Just my luck!), but thankfully, I wasn’t her first customer.
However, this was my first time.
“Honey,” she began. “You have to take your bra off.”
Oh. Right. I knew that.
After fumbling with the knots that I had tied in my dressing gown, I finally got down to business. With the exception of the first few moments of embarrassment – after all, these were strangers even if they were women — I tried to remind myself that they’ve seen ‘em all. It really is no big deal.
“Hold your breath!” the tech sang.
No problem! I gasped. How can you breathe when you’re flatter than a ham and cheese Panini? Was it painful? Well, not really…but shocking? YES. A second or two passed until I could exhale and move on to the next angle and then the next side.
I’m still not sure the female body is supposed to be manipulated like that, but if this is all it takes to save my life, then Flat Katy it is.
I left the Imaging Center with a few complimentary pieces of chocolate, feeling relieved that the ordeal was behind me, yet a tad anxious about waiting for the results. I sat in my car and texted my husband that the test was over and I was fine, to which he replied: “I’m glad you did it. For yourself and for the girls.”
And in his own way, I knew that meant he was glad I did it for him, too.
So now I wait for the postman to deliver my good news letter, which I hope will be in the mailbox within the next few days. Until then, my girls and I are going to start a new book… or perhaps I’ll just make up a story of my own:
How Flat Stanley (Really) Got His Name.