Interview: “The Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project”

It all started with a painting of her son as Spiderman – and then it became much more than just realizing a child’s innocent daydream!

The Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project is an inspiring initiative that celebrates the superhero inside every breast cancer patient. We reached out to the artist behind these empowering portraits, Barbara Porwit, to find out more about the project and to get to know these captivating superheroes better:

1. What (or who) inspired you to start “The Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project”?

This project started as many things do – an unexpected journey.

As an artist, I’d always been fascinated with figures and faces and in 2009 I did a portrait of my son as Spider-man. As you might expect, it was fun – and the image is fun — but it was also something more. As a viewer, you can tell that it’s a kid in a costume, but he KNOWS he can do it, he KNOWS he’s going to get the bad guy and save the day.

Zander as Spiderman: the original Superhero Portrait!

Zander as Spiderman: the original Superhero Portrait!

I realized this was about something that is in ALL of us. I was just beginning to explore this idea of the everyday superhero when it seemed everyone I knew started to get breast cancer.

Well, that is a journey that no one wants to go on – and like most people I was shocked, I was worried about my friends but I didn’t know what to do. Then I realized – what am I doing in the studio?

I connected the dots, and the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project was born.

2. You are the one who usually asks this question, but we’d like to ask it this time: If you were to be immortalized as your superhero of choice, who would you be and why?

My goodness, thank you for asking this question. I am even more impressed with you now – this is one that is often overlooked (which I am fine with – the project really is about honoring and celebrating others).

It’s funny, I HAVE grappled with this question a bit and found I’m a bit hesitant to step into the superhero ring myself, but even so there have been a couple answers to that question that have been floating around.

One would be that we would do a family portrait, with me as Wonder Woman and with my son drawing the monsters that I would be fighting — another is something that pulled from my simple hometown roots as a girl growing up on a farm in Wisconsin: that I would be 4-H girl: that I would dedicate “my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living – for my club, my community, my country and my world.” and my costume would be just a t-shirt with the 4-H clover on the front and pictures of head, heart, hands on the back.

Another idea is that I would be the “Scient-artist” — and my superpowers would be science and art, and I would use them to help the world. My costume would be my studio pants all covered in paint with a white lab coat, lab goggles, a palette and paintbrushes.

I was always good at math and science and the other thing I am doing right now is taking classes to hopefully become a physician’s assistant – so hopefully I WILL use that power for good too in this world— as you can see I find that we have powers already within us and it’s about how we use them. I guess I haven’t thought that much lately about if I myself can fly….

3. Superheroes have a history of empowering cancer patients and promoting awareness (among them the viral super-heroine self-check posters featuring cat woman and wonderwoman). What’s the appeal and benefit of using superheroes in relation to cancer, in your own perspective?

Superheroines urge you to Self-Examine in these Mozambican Breast Cancer PSAs by Maisa Chaves.

Superheroines urge you to Self-Examine in these Mozambican Breast Cancer PSAs by Maisa Chaves.

This project, for me, is really just one focused application of the much broader concept of the Everyday Superhero portrait. Over the long haul, I believe I will end up working with people from all walks of life with this concept and help them find the superhero in themselves.

But for people affected by breast cancer, there are a few things I believe are special for them. One, we are lifting up for them what they have the opportunity to recognize themselves as going through the universal hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell: “An individual is called away from “normal life” and asked to go on an adventure away from society where they will face a great danger and undergo an extreme ordeal. If successful, they return to society bearing some treasure they are able to share with their community and they are celebrated and honored as the hero they have become”

We know that for all people facing a life-threatening illness, you cannot assume what “victory” is or what the “outcome” will be. But if they retain a victorious spirit, that is something that cancer cannot take.

Even so, we are also hoping that connecting with inner strength in a fun and unintimidating way will contribute to benefits of positive emotions, which is something research is finding can have significant impact on outcomes – in health, in life measures and in relationships.

"Wonder Woman Katy" from The Breast Cancer Superhero Project

Meet Wonder Woman Katy from The Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project

At a time when most of the decisions they have to make are gut wrenching, it is also a chance for these women to be in control of something that is limited only by their imagination – at least in their minds (and on canvas!) they get to be immensely powerful and capable of fantastic feats – and they get to look however they want and wear whatever they want. I give them the gift of coming up with the visual that tells their story the way they want it told.

4. How do you select the women for this project?

Well the project is still young.I started with women I knew, but we are now starting to work with people who come to us from coming through the studio and finding out about the project.

Lisa Phoenix Rising - the real-life inspiration (right) with her daughter (left).

Meet Lisa Phoenix Rising – the real-life inspiration (right) with her daughter (left).

In the future, it will depend on funding – how many we can choose from those nominated by loved ones, and how many may be sponsored by community organizations who want me to work with the hero they want to raise up and celebrate. We do have a nomination form and an interview form for potential subjects.

5. Does it take long to develop the superhero’s character and how involved are the patients/survivors in the process itself?

Oh, it’s very much about the process that each subject goes through.

We do not hurry it, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months from the first conversation to the last stroke of paint. I want them to take their time and be very comfortable with each step along the way.

We have a first meeting where I ask a few questions and listen a LOT. I have to find out about them – who they are, their cancer journey — that is key —- and then we turn the page by starting the process of re-imagining themselves after cancer. It really is an organic process individualized for each woman. Some come up with a strong simple concept right away, some take more time to really ponder things. Then we get to talk about boots! (and hair, and pose, and costume… it’s fun and meaningful all at the same time).

Wonder Woman Katy and the real life inspiration!

Wonder Woman Katy and the real-life inspiration!

6. Several of the superheroes you’ve developed have unique superpowers closely linked to the cancer experience, like Radiation Diva. Do you find it makes them more relatable to other cancer patients? Please share why.

Well, Jill (AKA Radiation Diva) was one of the women who tipped the scale for me and made me know I HAD to do this project. She – totally independently of knowing I was even doing something with superheroes in the studio, sent out posts during her radiation every day saying “such and such song was playing on the sound system during my treatment today -what superpower do you think that gave me?” — and people would write back and say “you got the power to make people walk the line – ” or “you got the power to make animals strike curious poses” or “you got the power to get Jessie’s girl” – so now she has her Radiation Playlist with all the songs and her list of superpowers she got FROM her radiation.

That just blew me away. You are going through cancer and THIS is what you are doing with it.

Yes, we DO hope that others going down a similar road, seeing these images and reading the stories about how these women have responded to cancer will open up their minds to options they have to respond to their own situation differently.

"She wanted her hospital bracelets transformed into “Wonder Woman” style bracelets, and now she’s deflecting those darn cancer bullets – big time!" - Meet Radiation Diva from the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project. 

“She wanted her hospital bracelets transformed into “Wonder Woman” style bracelets, and now she’s deflecting those darn cancer bullets – big time!” – Meet Radiation Diva from the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project.

What’s different about this project also is we are taking real individual people and giving them access to this superhero persona development, it’s not a superhero that is far off in the distance and outside themselves.

The other thing that is different is that we aren’t just talking about “fight like a girl” or focusing on the “battle” part. We are opening this up to letting their imaginations play with however they would be and whatever they would be able to do if there were no limits – and it’s much more playful and fun than just talking about battles and winning.

They are rededicating themselves to whatever cause they want to use their powers for – like Suzi Kazal Forst, who found joy and justice rose to the top and is now using her powers of humor to bring joy to the world and going on international justice missions to help widows in Uganda.

7. How have patients/survivors reacted to their character depictions and to the project itself (in general)? Please share any interesting stories or anecdotes, if possible.

There is something profoundly powerful that has happened not only for the superheroes, but also for their friends and family, their medical care providers and other people who have been through cancer or know someone who has been through cancer. It’s something that touches everyone seeing people they can relate to depicted in this way.

Katy Tessman Stanoch, AKA Wonder Woman Katy ( says that becoming Wonder Woman represented her return after the awful experience that cancer was – like it is for most people. She has gone on to write a book to help children understand what is happening when their mothers are going through breast cancer. Her book, “Our Mama is a Beautiful Garden” helps instill hope and understanding at a time when things can be bleak and scary. Her life is entwining with her new persona in big ways.

Meet Ruby Runner from the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project (Photo Credit: Doug Webb)

Meet Ruby Runner from the Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project (Photo Credit: Doug Webb)

Anne Drow, AKA Ruby Runner, recently said this:

Anne “Ruby Runner” Drow: “When Barbara first asked me to be part of this project, it was almost like a dream come true. I was getting tired of being just someone who suffered because of the ravages of cancer. I wanted to be more than someone who survived.

I wanted the inner me to still shine through, and becoming the Ruby Runner gave me that opportunity. We have all changed in big ways and small. Some of the changes you can see, others you can feel. Some days I can move mountains, other days I could take on a newborn kitten and lose.

But, though the “new normal” is not my choice, I’m still here, I’m still fighting the good fight and still making people smile. So, it’s all good… No, I still can’t run and run and never get tired, but when the days are long and painful, I can look at her and know she is in there biding her time, waiting to come out and run!”  

8. What message(s) do you hope to send across to breast cancer patients through this project?

Basically, we hope to help inspire and celebrate the heroic nature of individuals affected by breast cancer.

By re-imagining themselves as playfully powerful, we hope to help breast cancer patients reconnect with inner resources they may have forgotten they had.

We also hope to create more opportunities for people to experience positive emotions and genuine connections with others during difficult times, and to help friends, family and community share in celebrating and honoring people they love and care about.

9. In a country, like Lebanon, where people struggle to talk openly about their cancer experience, do you find that relating it to superheroes and illustrations like yours helps bypass the taboo by giving it a different dimension? 

What is kind of magical about this project is that it is instantly approachable, playful and fun, at the same time moving and heartfelt. The underlying messages are definitely delivered and understood.

Everyone knows at least one person who has been through breast cancer (that’s too many people by the way) – and they all come away thinking about that person and what they went through – sometimes in a different way.

If that person is still alive, they might think about telling this person “I saw breast cancer survivors as superheroes today, and I think you are a superhero too –” it’s a way to change the conversation.

10. What are your plans for The Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project? Where do you see it heading?

There are many dreams for this project – but most of them will be dependent on the funds we can raise.

We want to go into different communities and serve them in whatever way works best for them – to bring the show with the paintings and the stories as a way to bring hope and encouragement and inspiration — we hope to offer additional art therapy “Show us your Superhero” workshops for patient support groups, family members and care providers so each community can create its own hall of heroes which will stay with them long after the paintings go to the next town — and of course the availability of commissioning their own superhero portrait to raise up their own hero to honor and have the large scale painting to be a permanent addition to their hospital or other community site reminding them of their own success story in future years.

Inspiring women at a Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project exhibition.

Inspiring women at a Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project exhibition.

We also are just starting the process of one of the other long term goals of the project: to offer the use of the images to help raise money for local patient support programs and potentially someday to help fund research looking into prevention and cause. Regla de Oro Gallery in Minneapolis, MN is currently seeking sponsorship to create merchandise (tote bags, Tshirts etc) to sell to raise revenue for the project and will donate a portion of proceeds to Angel Foundation which provides financial assistance and other support to cancer patients and their families here in Minnesota. The show will be at Regla de Oro March 17-April 26 with a fundraiser reception for Angel Foundation on March 21!

To find out more about the project and the superheroes, please visit “The Breast Cancer Superhero Portrait Project” Website and Facebook Page.


So, since we’re on the topic of superheroes: Which superhero do YOU relate to most or would like to be immortalized as – and WHY? We would love to hear your answers! Please share in the comments section below 🙂

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Interview: “I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”

Alyscia Cunningham is a US-based portrait and editorial photographer who recently launched a crowd-funding campaign for “I Am More than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”.

“I Am More than My Hair” is an awareness/social-change photography project that focuses on the beauty of being bald and follows Alyscia’s first book “Feminine Transitions” featuring a series of portraits that reveal the natural beauty of women of diverse ages and backgrounds without make-up on. Alyscia’s work celebrates natural beauty while also inviting us to challenge what beauty – real beauty – means to us, even when hair is lost.

Amy

Amy – Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book “I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”

We reached out to Alyscia to find out more about her project and share her insight throughout this experience below:

1. In October 2013, you decided to make the cut and donate your hair to a cancer organization. This move, as well as the reactions of those around you, raised many questions for you about beauty standards. What were some of the notable reactions you received after cutting your hair so short and how did this inspire your latest project “I am More than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”?

I’ve often heard, “A woman’s hair is her beauty” and “Your hair is your strength” from two different communities. I completely disagree with both statements.

It got to a point where I would tell myself “I am not my hair”. That single thought gave birth the the idea of my project I Am More Than My Hair, which is a response to that fact that I wasn’t my hair.

On that day, 16” [approx. 41 cm] of my locks were cut by Johnny Wright, Michelle Obama’s hair stylist, and donated for cancer patients. I’ve always had long hair and this was the first time I had ever cut my hair into a short style. I’ve wanted to cut it off once I realized my consistent head colds after swimming were related to the heavy weight of my locks not drying in time. Two years later, I was informed about the “Big Chop” and I gladly volunteered my hair to be donated.

2. You’ve been interested in beauty and addressing our relationship with it for a while now. Your previously published “Feminine Transitions” book features women without make-up and highlights the struggle of being vulnerable behind a lens. How are your two projects linked and how are they different in your perspective?

Both “Feminine Transitions” and “I Am More Than My Hair” relate to each other because they deal mostly with vulnerability. The participants were required to shed a layer to be photographed, whether it was make-up or a wig. The immediate difference that comes to mind is the subject matter.

However, there are more similarities than there are differences.

3. Tell us about your journey driving throughout Washington D.C. photographing girls and women for “Bald and Beautiful Me”. What stories came out of this experience and did you face any obstacles taking the photographs?

It has been a wonderful experience visiting new places within the DC metro area and meeting women I may not have bumped into otherwise. All the photos were taken outdoors or in a natural lighting environment: a favorite park, the backyard, by their bedroom window..

I wanted everyone to choose a location they connected with most.

I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

Tamela – Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book “I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”

Most women opened up, telling me their personal stories about their experience with hair loss. Some shed tears. Others simply accepted it for what it was. Either way, it is a blessing to connect with women from all walks of life.

4. You have photographed more than 35 women of different backgrounds, ages and ethnicities for your project so far. What were common themes you encountered and how did your definition of beauty change as a result of those interactions?

My first reaction was noticing so much more than the hair of bald women and girls. I really got a chance to see the beauty in their features, their smile.

Hair not being there was less of a distraction. They had a natural radiance. It was raw beauty in all colors, shapes and forms.

Sala

Sala – Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book “I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”

5. What message would you like to get across to women struggling with insecurities about their beauty? What would you tell your younger self today?

I always tell women that we are all uniquely beautiful. Don’t look to the media for an answer to beauty. The media bombards us with Photoshopped images and Photoshop is a lie.

I would tell my younger self to look for my worth within myself, and not from what others say to or about me.

6. In Lebanon (and much of the Middle East), beauty standards are quite high and this add lots of pressure on women to constantly keep up appearances. As such, when a woman loses her hair as a result of cancer treatment, it is even more difficult for her to cope and the majority will avoid being seen or opt to wear wigs during this period. This is also related to the taboo linked to cancer still being witnessed in our society, but the issue of beauty and social perception remains. What insight can you shed for women living in our part of the world on this issue and what kind of awareness do you think is needed to help overcome it?

In no way do I tell a woman going through cancer treatment how to feel. What I can offer is encouragement. I will do my best to let her know that she is beautiful despite her temporary (or permanent) hair loss. I can also offer a connection with another women on this side of the world going through the same experience, who can also encourage her.

I also make it a point to speak about the media’s view of beauty as compared to reality. Showing non-Photoshopped and Photoshopped has a huge impact on our self-perception.

From my experience, real pictures of well-known people in the media make the idea of beauty less threatening. The media sells insecurity. I use that outlet as a tool to sell positive self-imagery, showing individuals as everyday ordinary people.

Erika - Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham's photography book "I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me"

Erika – Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book “I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”

7. You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a documentary you’d like to develop based on “Bald and Beautiful Me” How was the experience for you and do you plan to relaunch the campaign in the future?

Unfortunately, there were complications with Kickstarter so I decided to launch my crowdfunding campaign on YouCaring.com. My goal is to raise $25,228 in order to be able to produce 1,000 copies of the book and 500 copies of the DVD documentary. Many people don’t understand that this small number of production still takes a great deal of work and dedication, which in turn takes money.

The money raised will also go towards the marking cost of producing both the book and DVD. At first, I was recording the stories of the participants for my crowd-funding campaign but decided to actually compile them into a documentary.

There stories are so personal and heartfelt that I had to share them along with the book.

8. In closing, please continue the statement in your own words: “I am more than my hair and/because …”

… my hair does not determine my strength or ability.

Jameelah

Jameelah – Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book “I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me”

Keep posted for more on “I Am More than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me” here.

We’d like to turn to you now: How would you continue the statement “I am more than my hair and/because …”Please share in the comments section below.

Let’s WhatsApp: What Can I Eat?

We’re excited to announce the launch of our first online patient support program launching next month (it’s going to be quite a busy month for us, considering another program happening then too).

The “Let’s WhatsApp” series will be a monthly activity and service we provide to patients by connecting them to specialists discussing topics they are interested in.. from the comfort of their own home! This will allow any patient or survivor to join the group chat for an hour to ask any questions they may have while also having the opportunity to connect to other patients from across Lebanon.

Our first “Let’s WhatsApp”chat will be all about nutrition and clinical nutritionist Diane Nicolas, Msc, RD will be our guest speaker. You may be familiar with her name on our blog through these previous posts:

Spots will be limited to ensure everyone gets a chance to take part so be sure to register asap!

Full details are in the flyers below:

S1Nutrition_Feb2015_ENG

S1Nutrition_Feb2015_AR

Blossom زهري : Art Therapy Workshops

ARE YOU A BREAST CANCER PATIENTS OR SURVIVOR?

Give yourself a chance to RELAX, REFLECT and RECONNECT with yourself (and others) through art. Blossom_Instagram “I never imagined the amount of information that would come out of a small drawing on paper. It was amazing how much did come out of that.. I was given insight that I wasn’t aware of, which gave me a sense of empowerment, and then I was able to make the decision that I wanted to from that.” – Patricia, Breast Cancer Patient (Source)


Artichoke Studio and One Wig Stand invite you to take part in a unique art therapy workshop to delve deeper into matters of importance to you and reshape your cancer experience.

“Art Therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the Art Therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” – American Art Therapy Association, 2015

Through art-making and intimate group discussions, the workshop aims to help each participant express her emotions, and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of herself. In a playful and nonjudgmental environment, important issues will be tackled through different artistic mediums (such as drawings, collage, clay, etc.) over a course of 8 sessions.

The workshop will provide you an opportunity to:

  • Relax, play and get distracted from any pain you may feel.
  • Express any emotions that may be difficult to verbalize.
  • Build your self-esteem and strengthen your body image.
  • Cope better with stress, grief, fear, anxiety and depression.
  • Become more self-aware of your emotions and needs.
  • Communicate and interact more effectively with your family and surroundings.
  • Connect with others who are going through or have been through a similar experience and find comfort, freedom and hope through this support network.

Sessions will be lead by Myra Saad – M.A. in Art Therapy & Mental Health Counseling. No prior experience in art is required to take part in, or benefit from, art therapy. Confidentiality is highly respected.


WORKSHOP DETAILS The workshop will start in March and will take place once per week over 8 weeks.

  • Time: TUES: 6:30pm – 9pm OR FRI: 9:30am – 12pm (to be set based on majority preference)
  • Location: Artichoke Studio, Sin el-Fil
  • Fee: $145 for 8 sessions (includes cost of art materials)

REGISTRATION

Fill-in the following online registration form: http://goo.gl/forms/gQo2joKLyT OR download it (from here) and send it to us on: blossom.art.therapy@gmail.com Kindly note that places are limited!

Deadline for Registrations: Friday March 6, 2015


ABOUT US ARTICHOKE STUDIO is committed to providing art therapy for individuals, groups and communities seeking mental health and self-development, based on high professional and ethical standards. www.artichokestudio.org

ONE WIG STAND is a breast cancer awareness and support non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness among young women through its engaging campaigns and targeted support programs for patients and their families. www.onewigstand.org


For more information, please contact: 03-545281 or 79-158471

Nerves and Boob Exams

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but I never quite found the right time to do it and kept putting it off. Not unlike the routine breast exams I find myself pushing off to the very last moment. Or until I get fed up of the constant reminders from my mom and husband to do it (Thank you both for that!).

IMG_BeforeSelfie

On my way up to the center, doctor’s note in hand.

Doing any type of check-up brings along a certain type of anxiety. Multiply that by 100 for those check-ups that have to do with cancer detection. Yeah, it’s stressful. And I completely understand why others may put it off too. I relate so much more to that anxiety especially since I’ve started doing it too. Even as someone working in the field and constantly asking others to get checked, I get nervous. Possibly, slightly even more so because I’m reminded daily of cancer’s realities through the patients we work with. And as the daughter of a former breast cancer patient, I’m at added risk which means I need to get screened at a younger age (usually 10 years before the age of diagnosis of the person in the family that had it). I did my first mammography at the age of 29 and today went in for my yearly check-up. The reason I’ve wanted to write this was to actually take you through the experience with me so that you may feel better prepared for what’s to come when you get checked. Just a small disclaimer here: This is my personal experience and views on the matter that should not be taken as a general example nor reflect the views of the NGO in any way. So before even going to the hospital, clinic or center you plan to get screened at, you need a doctor’s note, an ID and your insurance card. The insurance I’m currently on doesn’t cover much so I actually pay 78,000 LL for a mammary echograph (mammographs are for every other year in my case and I don’t remember how much the first one cost). That will differ based on your coverage. I’ve been doing my screenings at CEDIM in Abraj Center for the past three visits so they are my reference point (although I’d love to hear more from you on how it is in other places in Lebanon). I’ve been happy with their service so far and although they are professional, there is a lot of waiting in the process.

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Waiting is probably the most stressful part of the experience.

That’s probably the part that plays the most on my nerves, especially as I go on my own for these routine check-ups. A lot of the women I see there actually tend to be on their own too but if you’re one to panic, bring someone along like your mom or sister. It will help to have company. So after waiting for the form processing and your turn in the “salon” (usually full of several people each keeping to their own), you’re escorted to the top floor where the actual exams take place. I tend to get the most nervous in this part of the clinic because that’s where people  also tend to get their diagnosis. It’s really hard when someone sitting next to you gets some bad news. Even though you’re complete strangers, you just want to reach out and hug them. At the same time, it gets you worried about your own turn. It’s human nature to feel this way.

IMG_2716

The machine used for the mammary echographs.

Once you’re in the exam room, the doctor comes to check you. I’ve been doing my mammary echograph exams with Dr. Carla Hobeika, who put me at complete ease and doesn’t mind explaining things to me during the process (I always have a ton of questions).

IMG_2715

The decorative items in the exam room were quite fitting for the occasion!

The time I did the mammograph, it was with one of the young busy-body nurses (often in a pair of bright Converse shoes) that assist around the clinic. I’ll admit: it’s not a pleasant exam, but an important one so you put up with the discomfort that comes along with it. I can’t wait till someone invents a new mammography machine that caters to women’s chest comfort (if that term makes sense?). I believe it would play a big role in encouraging more women to get screened more regularly if so. So back to the exam room: the screening takes around 20 minutes. Dr. Hobeika is quite thorough and it is interesting to see the breast tissue on the screen as she does it so you feel more engaged in the process. You’ll see some dark circular shapes in the tissue now and then, but don’t be so quick to worry: they may simply be naturally-occurring cysts in the chest that are nothing to worry about. Asking when you see something is important and I find having a doctor who’s patient with that part really helps. After checking the chest and armpit area, we’re done and out I go. The results tend to take 1-2 days so mine will be ready tomorrow. The doctor put me at ease by mentioning that everything looked normal (thank God!). I’ll be back next year for my annual so until then, mission accomplished.

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The card they give you for when the results will be ready (They spelled my name wrong.

Well, there you have it! My personal account of a routine chest exam. The process itself will differ from place to place and doctor to doctor, which is why I’d love to hear more from you on this. How has your experience been if you’ve done this? What can be better? What helps? What doesn’t? And if you’d like to find out more on this, you know how to reach us.