I am 18 years old and it is a cold and blustery day in Brooklyn, Wellington, not New York, and I was trying to find a doctor.
I needed to get a physical for my visa to get into the US. Everything hinged on this test. I had nothing to worry about but I was still very worried. What if this, what if that, what if they said no and I couldn't go over to school in the US for some random thing.
Did I mention it was cold.
I don't have breasts myself but I have been a big fan of them since I was born. At first because they were a source of nutrition and later on in life as a form of enjoyment when on the odd occasion I am allowed to play with some.
October is Breast Cancer awareness month and its the number 1 cancer for women in New Zealand. Usually being number 1 is a good thing but no one is winning this game.
Around 3300 Kiwi mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, nieces, friends, bosses, teachers, police officers, doctors, you name it, are diagnosed ever year.
I found the doctor's office and went in and asked if there was any doctor available for me to do this examination. They told me that someone will be with me shortly.
Every year 25 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer, a small little genetic quirk of how close males and females are on a cellular level.
I sat in the waiting room. More waiting, more chance for my mind to go to those dark what if places. The Doctor called me into her office. She was a kind looking older women who briefly looked over the documents I needed her to assess me on. We briefly discussed what it was for, and then we got down to it.
The 10 year survival rate of cancer patients is 92% if detected by regular mammograms.
The doctor is doing normal tests, checking my pulse, listening to my lungs, checking my blood pressure, then she scans to the next item to be checked off.
She asks me to pull down my pants. Did I mention how cold it was outside, because it was cold. Also, factor in that I am a grower, not a show-er so this wasn't my proudest moment.
She was not worried at all, she just did her examination with the same level of enthusiasm she had done all the other tests, specifically, not much.
To her, it was routine, for me, life changing.
And as it happened, I passed all the tests, got my visa and I was off to go to school in the US. All of the concern for nothing.
600 Kiwis die every year from Breast Cancer, check yourself regularly. If you feel anything strange go get checked by a doctor. As you get older you need to go get checked as part of your own personal warrant of fitness.
It can be scary, but the people at the clinic don't care what you or your breasts look like, they just care that you are there.
For more information check out https://www.breastcancerfoundation.org.nz/
Shave well, be awesome, tell someone you love to go get a mammogram.