Within weeks of my arrival in the U.K. I was invited, by the National Health, to participate in a free, confidential, routine cancer screening programme in Bromley. No requests for me to make an appointment, just a fait accompli,
“Please appear at the screening mobile unit on August 11th, 2011 at 1050am.”
I felt as though I was being called to jury duty or active combat, but I knew what the invitation meant without further explanation, of which there was a lot in the envelope including a map, bus numbers to get me there and a phone number to call if the appointment wasn’t convenient.
I had nothing else to do, why not pop along for a mammogram?
I had to walk up a steep hill for about ten minutes to get me to the South East London, Breast Screening Mobile Unit and by the time I had checked my paperwork, already completed for me (love that socialised medicine), I was ready to take all my clothes off! My shirt and cami sufficed.
The technician had me lean into the machine and rest my breast on the perfectly positioned glass shelf. She adjusted my hips and shoulders and told me to hold the pose while she pressed the button. My forced stance was uncomfortable but I soon forgot about that when the machine sprung into action. My breast felt as though it was being crushed by a compactor that bears down until it meets resistance. Flattened like a pancake it bounced back, once it was released, and I was allowed to step away from the plate. After side two she checked the computer, it’s all digital now, and gave a nod of approval. I replaced my cami and shirt and left.
As I was walking down the hill I felt good, I’d looked after myself, done something kind for my body, even if it wasn’t enjoyable.
If I was given the all clear I wouldn’t be invited back for another three years.
Three years! Yes!