here for you

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Here for You
-Stephanie Johnston

Mammographers know it’s not a fun scan – believe me – so we do everything we can to make you comfortable.

When I greet you, I look you in the eye and say, ‘You’re here for a mammogram,’ which might sound silly, but I don’t want there to be any confusion because confusion breeds fear.

I tell you everything that will happen.  I put my hand on your back as we walk into the room – I’m talking to you with my words, but also with my hands, my tone.

I make sure you’re covered until the second you are positioned on the machine.  Once the test is under way, I say things like, ‘You’re doing great’ and ‘Just a few more seconds.’  When I reposition you, curving my arm around you, pulling you, turning you, I say, ‘We’re doing the mammo dance!’

I ask, ‘How are you doing?’  If you say you’re okay, I ask, ‘Can I do something different?’

Sometimes – it’s happened twice in the last 20 years – the patient absolutely can’t bring herself to submit to the test, and then I say, ‘This just isn’t the day for you to come get a mammo.  You can come back another day.’

What I never do is leave you, whether physically or by sinking into my own thoughts, stewing about my bad day or my worries or all the things waiting for me back out in the world.  In that moment, you are all that matters.

Stephanie Johnston is the President Elect of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Wichita Falls, Texas.

 From Oprah Magazine, August 2019, page 97.

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