Today I am daring to mention that tender subject that makes every woman wince – the annual mammogram.Â This is never fun, for any of us, but we do it.Â The importance of this exam has been drilled into our heads.Â We make jokes (To prepare for your mammogram, lie comfortably on the cold garage floor and have your husband run the car over your breast a few times…), but we still approach the appointment with trepidation.Â What if they find something this time?
I took my mother to her appointment recently.Â For her, it’s a bigger deal, since she has had breast cancer.Â She has beat it and remains cancer free, but you can imagine her level of trepidation and the especially tender state of her breasts after surgery, radiation, etc.Â We went to a local breast center, attached to a reputable hospital where her surgeon (a truly wonderful man and skilled surgeon) practices.Â If only their attitudes matched his!
Speed and efficiency seemed the primary goals at this location.Â Mother is handicapped and walks very slowly with a walker and we could sense the impatience all around.Â Ushered to a thinly curtained booth, she was instructed – quickly – to strip from the waist up and put on the gown with the opening in the front.Â Then, the woman split.Â Mother didn’t hear a word (she’s partially deaf), so I repeated.Â I also told her to wash off her deoderant (SOP since it distorts the image), which the woman had forgotten.Â Mother changed, then took a seat in the tiny waiting area and I joined her.
The same woman eventually returned, and led Mother into the exam room.Â Afterwards, I helped her dress, retrieved her walker and we left.Â Once in the car, Mother commented on the technician’s manner during the exam.Â For my male readers who have not experienced the joy of a mammogram, you need to understand that you have to assume a very awkward position for this xray, with your breast smashed painfully between a couple of plates.Â My handicapped mother was having great difficulty getting into the position and the woman got impatient and angry with her!Â Mother defended herself, explaining that she was physically unable to move quickly or into the position quite the way she was being directed, and the woman finally calmed down.Â Â Mother was understandably disturbed by this.Â I was outraged.
Now,Â let usÂ recap.Â You have an elderly, handicapped woman who has difficulty moving and hearing, and who had bilateral partial mastectomies and radiation just last year.Â She remembers the pain and she is frightened.Â If this were your customer, and a very typical one given your trade, how would you treat her?Â If you were a manager, how would youÂ direct your employees?Â What would be the primary goal for your customer service?
Contrast this with my last mammogram experience, just a few months ago, but at a different breast center.Â I was greeted with a smile, handed paperwork with discretion, and asked to take a seat.Â Another woman came to get me, ushered me into another room and to a booth with a door, not a thin curtain.Â I was given a short gown and directed to place my valuables in a locker, which was supplied with a key on an elastic bracelet.Â The very pleasant woman asked if I was wearing deoderant, showed me where the wipes were in case I was, and left me to change my clothes.Â While seated in the quiet waiting area adjacent to the dressing booths, another woman came, gave meÂ pamphlets about breast exams and cancer and offered to answer any questions.
During my actual exam, I was handled with kindness.Â The technician was efficient, but not rushed.Â She was focused on me and making an unpleasant moment pass as easily as possible.Â Her manner was professional, unhurried, friendly and reassuring.
What a contrast.Â My only concern about all of this is what I will do if my test is positive and I have to choose between my breast center/hospital and Mother’s breast surgeon.Â It will be a tough choice.
By the way, our test results were good.Â WeÂ are both free of cancer.