Taking care of the tatas - my first mammogram

According to MyCampusTalk.com, there are 262 names for breasts - tatas, headlights, boobs, jugs, melons or in my case mini melons, kazongas, and hooters just to name a very few.   From enormous to the itty-bitty, they are a source of pride for some women and displeasure for others.

But whether you barely fill an A-cup (that would be me) or you need a Triple E, we all must deal with the same thing.  Every woman in America, and beyond, should have their breasts screened for cancer.

I may be a little late to catch the wave of awareness posts for this year, seeing that we are at the end of November and October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Or I am just really early for next year.  But the way I look at it, it is never the wrong time to bring awareness to a devastating disease.

Today I followed in the footsteps of millions of women before me and had my boobs squeezed all in the name of early detection.  Even though there is no history of breast cancer in my family, I am considered ‘high risk’.

For the past four years, I have been on estrogen replacement as part of my transition from male to female.  One of the drawbacks to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an increase risk for breast cancer.  The risks will increase as long as I am on the high dose required prior to the gender reconstruction surgery.

Unfortunately there is no study that tells me how much of a risk I am at.  The studies that have been done on HRT and breast cancer involved post menopausal women, not transgender women.  Nearly all the money that is put into transgender health research goes to issues involving HIV, mental health or substance abuse.

So with only a smattering of info on breast cancer incidents in trans women, I take my life in my own hands and get the screening.  From this point on I will get the screening every year.

When 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer sometime in their life, those are odds I don’t take lightly.  In this year alone about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.  Over 39,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2013.  My former sister in law was one of them.

And guys, pay attention, you all are not immune from breast cancer. From the research I found, 1 out of 1000 men will develop breast cancer sometime in their life.

Most women have their whole lives to get use to their breasts.  I, on the other hand, went through my female puberty in my early forties and have only had my boobs for a short time in comparison.  I thought it would be a weird experience for me to have my first mammogram.  This would be the first time anyone touched my breasts.

But as I stood there today, having my body contorted and my breasts manipulated, squeezed and scanned, my thoughts were of all the women that have past through my life that have fought the battle with the dreaded disease.  Vicki, Shannon, Teppi, Jesse and many more are incredibly strong and powerful living reminders that early detection is critical.

As much as I get this screening for myself. (I really don’t want to face another medical problem.  Fibromylagia is enough.)  But I do this for my kids.  I do this for my future grand babies and their children.

For me, it is more than just wearing a pink ribbon on my uniform at work.  My kids have already lost their aunt after a ten year battle.  They need to know that every woman in their life takes this seriously.

So if you haven’t done it already, whether you are a trans or cis woman, call and make an appointment for a mammogram.  If not for you – for all those in your life that you love.


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    Meggan Sommerville

    Meggan Sommerville is a Christian transgender woman with a heart for educating others about the transgender community and her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. Her career life has taken her on a variety of adventures, from being a veterinary technician in the Western burbs of Chicago to being an EMT/Paramedic, EMS instructor, and a paid on call firefighter for Bolingbrook , Illinois. Since 1998, she has been the frame shop manager for a national craft retailer. You can contact Meggan via email at Meg.Sommerville@aol.com or find her on Facebook at Trans Girl at the Cross

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