October–Be Aware

I’ve been planning to write about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and now time is running out. Keeping schedules and mammograms up to date–that’s part of what October is about.

Until recently, my mammogram month was August. Then it was September. This year it slipped to October and I was greeted by new equipment. Now it’s digital and 3-D. It was easier and faster and I was pleased. But more than that, it’s far a better diagnostic tool.

We’ve come a long way, gals!

I started having annual mammograms earlier than most since I have cystic breast disease. I have to shake my head when I think of my first mammogram. It must have been in the late 60s or early 70s. I don’t remember exactly how they did it but it involved two inflated balloons! I was more interested in what the nurse was doing with the balloons than the x-ray machine. It may have been an invention of my personal physician and his patients may be the only women x-rayed with their boobies compressed slightly between two balloons.

Technology advanced and before long someone invented a rather large, dedicated mammogram machine with clear plastic boobie smashers. The first ones required the insertion and removal of x-ray film plates between each view, a lot of breath holding, and I’m not sure the first technicians took cover behind a protective shield. Then the patient had to wait while the film was developed, and if the patient had snitched a slight breath and blurred the picture, more x-rays were needed. The room temp was low and those plastic places were cold. It wasn’t fun.

Sometimes they laid a marker on the lower plastic plate to indicate right and left. But later… Remember those little pasties with the silver ball in the center? I usually forgot to take mine off.

A few years ago, digital x-rays came on the scene replacing the x-ray film and development time with an instant view on a computer monitor. Great progress and technology has continued to advance. I think the digital equipment has been updated at the Imaging Center here in Duncan about three times in the last eight years.

I’m always happy to see updated equipment because it means a clearer, more in depth view more likely to spot trouble early. However, according to the letter I received, there was no evidence of trouble but even with this fancy, state of the art equipment, this diagnosis in inconclusive and we women must do our own exams on a monthly basis.

So… October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but we must always be aware. Be alert, gals! Check your boobies every month and keep your annual mammogram appointment.


Fourth Grade Memories

I guess I’m getting older. Isn’t everyone? And, don’t we all, everyday? Anyway, I read the obituaries and all too often, I find someone I used to know there.

A few weeks ago, I saw a familiar last name, Costen. There was a little something about the first name that seemed familiar. And, the image of the woman in the photo, now 88, triggered a memory. I read on. Joyeline Sterns Costen taught school in my hometown. I blinked. She was my fourth grade teacher.

Memories sprang to life of a young, very attractive lady, just out of college. My fourth grade class loved this teacher the instant we saw her. She was young! (My first and second grade teachers were older than my parents. And, my third grade teacher taught Mom and Dad, she kept calling me by my mother’s name.)

This new teacher was a delight. She didn’t remember my parents and expect me to live up to her memories of them. Did I mention that she was young and pretty?

According to the obit, she graduated college in 1947 and married in the summer of 1948. She taught my class at the beginning of her career. In fact, we may have been her first classroom experience, or maybe her second.

I don’t remember much about that year. I think it might have been the year the girls discovered the boys, or vice versa. A cute little guy with light brown curly hair bubbled with mischief and caught my attention. I claimed him as my boyfriend and I think we may have kissed at the end of school picnic. Not sure… It was one of those things I would have kept secret so long I forgot.

The Costens moved away and I lost track of them although I remembered her. From her obituary I see that she had a long successful teaching career and a 65 year marriage. She may be gone but her memory lingers on. Throughout her career, she encouraged many youngsters to reach their full potential as she helped lay the foundation for their higher education. I was one of them. Thank you, Mrs. Costen.