I needed to have a follow up thyroid ultrasound this morning (actually, that was a very funny time and I’ll put that in a different post). The location of my ultrasound was at an imaging center for mammograms and as you might imagine, there were many women there in various stages of breast cancer from diagnosis to treatment. I walked in with an older couple and discovered shortly thereafter, that they were German and the woman did not speak English. I was taken to the back but bypassed the area where I needed to disrobe and dress for a mammogram [I learned a few ultrasounds ago to dress appropriately for neck ultrasounds]. The section I was taken already had women in assorted pink and purple shirts and the women had various degrees of hair growth. To be honest, I know that mammograms are VERY PERSONAL experiences but at this particular moment “I” was the one that stuck out of the crowd and just about everyone had eyes on me.
I sat down and then heard a discussion going on back at the entrance to the “back room” and realized that the German husband was trying to explain that his wife did not speak English and he wanted to accompany her to the back; a place no men were allowed. A staff member assured the man that she would guide his wife and she escorted the woman to the section where I was sitting. That brought the count to seven, including me. Another woman piped up and asked the German lady if she spoke any English and she displayed with her fingers that she spoke a little (about one inch 😉 ). I said, “So you probably understand it but do not speak very well?” to which she nodded. The first woman spoke again “It’s torture just waiting to get this scan to see if I have cancer.” The German woman nodded in agreement. A woman without hair said “It’s worse waiting to see if your treatment is working.” Another said “… or to see if your cancer has returned.” I have to say, I felt very uncomfortable and I remained silent… but then, a “spunky” elderly woman spoke up and said matter-of-factly “Oh, you get used to it. I have been through all this… twice.” And, right then, inexplicably… they all looked at me. I said “My only complaint is that it is VERY COLD in here.” 😉 That made everyone laugh in agreement. Then I pointed to the scar on my neck and said that I was not there for a mammogram but a follow-up thyroid ultrasound.
It doesn’t compare.
And while each woman was experiencing something profoundly personal, it was very sobering to be present and see the spirit each one was immediately willing to share with complete strangers. I was blessed to get a glimpse…
[part 2 of my experience: http://blog.scottsontherocks.com/blog/2011/09/19/thyroid-ultrasound/ ]