Baring My Chest – Mammograms, Expression and Healing

In 2008 I had breast cancer at the ripe age of 33, and now every year I choose to have both a mammogram and ultrasound as part of my overall breast care program.

Over the past couple of years I have become more aware of how I am as I go into having my mammograms. I realized that for the first few years, I would pretty much check out so as to not to feel what was really taking place – which is that your breasts are being squished several times uncomfortably between two glass plates!

For the women who have experienced a mammogram, they will most likely confirm that it isn’t particularly pleasant – not quite as fun as having cups of tea with the girls! The room is a little chilly and you are asked to stand there exposing your breasts as the medical staff handle and place them on the machine between glass plates, that put them into a shape that I didn’t know was possible, as the x-rays are taken.

So another year had passed and today was the day for my annual scans. Today I made the firm decision that I was not going to check out this time but instead, remain super aware, present, joyful, gentle and take all of these qualities of me into having my scan.

I have had a tendency to walk into having the mammograms a little sheepishly – feeling what was to come, which is discomfort and the embarrassment of standing there in front of the radiographer baring my breasts. Standing there exposed, my body would respond by the rolling in of my shoulders to try and conceal my breasts (which is pretty much impossible given that you are standing there in front of them naked from the waist up) and I would feel myself inwardly shrink.

Today I decided to focus on staying super-connected and gentle with myself as I entered the room.

I was soon greeted by a trainee along with her supervisor in tow informing me that she would be doing my mammogram as part of her training. My initial thought was “oh no, I have the newbie, which could mean more pain and discomfort because she doesn’t know what she is doing”. But I soon let that go and surrendered with the process that was unfolding before me.

I stayed present and gentle with my body as I undressed and stood there in front of the ladies. I held my connection to me by staying with my body and breath as the trainee went through the usual procedure of placing my breasts on the glass slides and putting me in different positions as numerous x-rays were taken.

She was warm, caring and honouring of what I was feeling. She kept talking to me letting me know what she was doing and how I could assist her in the process.

At the end of the procedure I felt to let her know just how awesome she had been. I shared with her how different it felt when she pushed the buttons slowly and gently as the glass slides came down over my breasts and how her caring nature also helped to lessen the pain. I expressed to her at how great she was at her job and to keep up the communication and love that she was offering women as it makes a huge difference to the experience of having a mammogram.

She was taken by surprise with what I had said. She had a huge grin on her face and thanked me for saying that as no woman had ever given her any feedback or said anything to her before.

This experience led me to ponder just how much we hold back as women when there is so much to be shared and that this holding back doesn’t support or evolve anyone.

I know that the sharing I offered this young lady today would stay with her well into her career and the confirmation offered to her of the amazing job she was doing by truly caring, would be the gift that she would continue to give to many more women to come.

I also clocked on this day just how far I had come in my own self-nurturing since having breast cancer. Each year when I have my annual scans I have an opportunity to feel how I have raised the bar in the level of love that I am now accepting within myself.

I realized that I was only able to express the appreciation and confirmation to this young lady that I did, because of the tenderness, connection and care that I have been consistently offering myself. The level of care she gave to me was a clear reflection of these qualities I have been nurturing in myself and therefore was a beautiful confirmation for me too.

The love and deep care that I have developed for myself has been with the support from Esoteric Women’s Health presentations and through the Esoteric Healing modalities, in particular the Esoteric Breast Massage. I have learnt to listen carefully to my body and respond to its needs rather than pushing through my to do list. A couple of simple examples of this are that I quite often give myself a 15-minute lie down rest within the day where I come to being still and connect with my body, and that I now eat in accordance to how my body is feeling rather than eating from habit or to numb myself.

When we choose to honour the preciousness that we are as women and fully walk this, it is a powerful reflection to others in that they too have the choice to embrace these qualities for themselves. It is through our reflection that we offer each other evolution and therefore we hold a responsibility to not hold back.

In deep appreciation to Serge Benhayon, Natalie Benhayon and to Esoteric Women’s Health for their endless love and inspiration.

By Donna Gianniotis, Age 41, Yoga, Universal Medicine Therapies Practitioner, Admin and Marketing but most importantly –  a woman, Sydney, Australia

More Inspiration for you:

Women in Livingness Magazine – Edition 1 Breast Care – real women, real life, real inspiration.

Breast Screening with Mammograms – much needed but is there a more nurturing way? Jane Keep shares her experience and realisations.

Discover The Journey of the Esoteric Breast Massage

330 thoughts on “Baring My Chest – Mammograms, Expression and Healing

  1. This morning I had a call and the person on the other end asked if there was anything going on more than what she’d call to discuss. There was and I appreciated that she picked up on this and asked me. I could have said “yeah, everything is fine, bye” but I honored the fact that she picked up on something. Reading this now I felt to thank her for asking rather than passing by it as she’d already gotten the information she needed.

  2. What if ‘baring our chest’ was less to do with exposing our breasts and more to do with letting others see the exquisite beauty of the love that beats within it? A simple act that is done fully clothed but with absolute transparency.

  3. I am sure there is a more loving way to screen breasts other than squashing each one between a plates of glass is a cold room. Like we have incredible technology now so why is such an archaic and unloving way still being used for this?

  4. Love what you’ve shared here about our responsibility to reflect and express who we are in full. Holding back actually takes more effort than letting ourselves out and expressing in full, and it has a physical effect on our bodies, sapping us of our natural vibrancy and energy.

  5. “The level of care she gave to me was a clear reflection of these qualities I have been nurturing in myself and therefore was a beautiful confirmation for me too.” Beautiful. Your not holding back on sharing your appreciation of her care will be felt in every woman she cares for while doing her job.

  6. Thank you for sharing the ripple effect of you choosing to stay with yourself throughout the mammogram process – both in how you worked together to make it a less painful experience and also in how freely expressing your appreciation for the trainee’s care and attention supported her to appreciate what she is offering.

  7. I love this: “It is through our reflection that we offer each other evolution and therefore we hold a responsibility to not hold back.”. That is to never not do anything because no one else is doing it. It might just be that you are the one that can inspire this loving change in others. You might be the one other women are waiting for to see around.

  8. I am sure there must be a different and more loving and supportive way to do mammograms and cervical smear tests other than squashing the breasts in glass plates and using a speculum that really hurts. Like we have the technology for a fridge to tell us what is in there if we need to know when we are at the supermarket so we must have the technology to make this more loving and supportive for women.

    1. I feel sure most of us will welcome a more loving and supportive way for mammograms and cervical smear tests.

  9. It was very beautiful how you appreciated and confirmed the trainee after your mammogram, ‘ I expressed to her at how great she was at her job and to keep up the communication and love that she was offering women as it makes a huge difference to the experience of having a mammogram.’

  10. A beautiful blog about self honouring Donna, thank you for sharing your experience, that in deepening your own self love and appreciation you were able to deep appreciated and confirm the loving care provide to you by the assistant.

  11. It is so important to hold ourselves with love, when we are having examinations and appointments with care and love, rather than reducing ourselves and not saying how we feel or what is important to us, and so starting with this by honouring what we feel and standing steady in that.

  12. Expressing how we feel and what we need is so important – none maybe more so than in a hospital situation where the staff sometimes do things almost by rote. When I have shared in such a setting I have done so not just for myself, but trusting that future patients may also benefit.

  13. A beautiful example of the ripple effect when we cherish and nurture ourselves and how this is felt and responded to in another.

  14. To read about one woman’s choice in how she has chosen to care for her self post cancer is very beautiful. In this article there is no judgement about having had breast cancer, nore a fear of the future. There is simply a dedication to caring for and supporting the body.

  15. ” She was taken by surprise with what I had said. She had a huge grin on her face and thanked me for saying that as no woman had ever given her any feedback or said anything to her before. ”
    Its interesting to note the staff person, a woman, was surprised and not alone that but no woman had given her feedback or said anything to her before.
    One would wonder if this is a contributing factor (failing to express how one feels about whats happening ) to ladies breast issues.

  16. With the support and inspiration of Esoteric Women’s Health I am developing a deeper love and care for myself then ever before.
    Donna- Thank you for sharing – amazing to feel your reflection.

  17. Staying present and gentle and expressing too how we feel and what we are thinking: a great recipe for developing greater awareness, deepening in love and developing in our evolution.

  18. It is very beautiful to fully appreciate someone for the service they provide, it makes such a difference to feel it when someone truly cares and makes connection and gentleness a priority. I often offer appreciation when I can feel this in interactions.

    1. I recently went for my routine mammogram and found that the relationships we had created from my last appointment was there to continue where we left off. A connection of two women and an offering of so much more than a screening.

      1. That is beautiful to appreciate, we can build the quality of our interactions and a foundation decency and care can be established that can bloom further, and as you say it offers so much more than the practical task at hand.

  19. It is interesting that when we are put in a vulnerable situation, we are much less likely to share how we are feeling. So after a very exposing session on a mammogram – I can imagine most ladies would want to run out of there. And yet you gave some really amazing feedback. This is what truly connecting with women is – that we can be vulnerable and appreciate each other and let people in.

  20. This woman will take that experience with you into her daily work activity. Which is amazing Donna. Can you imagine that you was telling that moment that you didn’ t want her to help you. That will be a missed opportunity for many women to come.

  21. When women honour themselves as precious and delicate beings they offer a powerful reflection for other women to be inspired by.

  22. Exactly as you wrote: ‘It is through our reflection that we offer each other evolution and therefore we hold a responsibility to not hold back.’ A beautiful reminder for me today.

  23. The thoughts that enter and how they can take over if we allow them too! My first initial response to someone new working would have been the same ‘she has no experience, she won’t be confident or sure of what she is doing’ but these reactions are my issues. How untruths can enter because of my attachment to beliefs and ideals!

  24. This really shows how caring for ourselves and appreciating ourselves is not selfish because through doing this you were able to notice and express this appreciation back to the young woman being tender and loving with you. Because it has been noticed and expressed it will be way easier for her to keep working with love and tenderness like she did with you in an environment of health care that is often harsh and has a ‘just get it done’ mentality.

  25. And it’s incredible how different everything becomes around you when you surrender to being your lovely self. It makes living with the idea that ‘Life is hard’ difficult to hold up, because things begin to flow and you find yourself having less and less to complain about.

  26. A great example of how the beauty in not holding back and lovingly expressing how we feel allows others to also unfold and evolve.

  27. A beautiful appreciation Donna of the power in staying present with ourselves and surrendering to allow a process to unfold without expectation on an outcome leads us to having a totally different experience than previous ones.

  28. Having worked as a mammographer, in the early day of my career, appreciation and confirmation were very seldom offered by the patients because of the discomfort of the procedure and the anxiety around what the results of the test may reveal. So your appreciation of the young lady would have been much appreciated and would have supported her greatly at the start of her career.

  29. A great example of teamwork in action with the trainee and yourself and so awesome that you gave her so much positive feedback which I have no doubt will follow her through her career and support her to evolve with her dedicated work.

  30. Thank you for sharing Donna as a man , I would not be aware of some of the procedures women go through in their healing process thank you. ” Today I decided to focus on staying super-connected and gentle with myself as I entered the room “. For me this is key to your story and all that precipitated. The important part as you say is reflection and so you being all of you was able to reflect to the student what you felt and observed. Most likely other patient would not be in a position to reflect to the trainee. So very beautiful.

  31. There is a delicacy and a sweetness that can be expressed to eachother, as shown in this piece of writing. And there is a loveliness that happens when we do not hold this back, when we let this expression out and let it be seen, heard and felt by other people. The reason this is so important and valuable is because when there is more delicacy and sweetness being expressed in the world, then there is less hurt and protection being expressed which gives to eachother the grace and the space to all come back to who we truly are as a collective race of humans.

  32. This blog makes me reflect on how often I contract myself in particular situations, not bringing my fullness wherever I am. Even in a situation like this, I can feel and express the amazing woman that I am, and this offers a reflection that doesn’t pass unnoticed. As always that we show who we are, our reflection offers something unique that remains forever and this is worth to be shared

  33. It is so easy to get sucked into the necessities of life that we often override what we feel and push through at great cost to our health. It is a shame we sometime need a scare of some kind to remind us how precious we are and how we need to love, care and honour ourselves deeply

  34. Thank you for sharing Donna . . . very beautiful and very inspiring, especially for the young girl to whom you gave such great feedback as this kind of appreciation is what every young person needs when embarking on a career so as to keep them on track of making their job about people first. Your experience also confirms the fact that when we take ourselves in fullness anywhere we have so much to offer.

  35. This is an inspiring blog Donna, not only to understand how not holding back is very evolving but in also being open to forever deepening our love and relationship with ourselves and taking full responsibility for our body and our health.

  36. Beautiful Donna, what you say is very true, we do not express nearly enough with one another, particularly in appreciation of gestures, qualities or just simply another woman’s quality of presence. It is sad in a sense that this sort of feedback be received with such surprise and as you say, will probably be remembered for much of her professional life a stand-out moment. This ought to be our normal way with each other… so thanks for being willing to make a start.

  37. I had my first mammogram last week, it was just the regular check-up but I had been putting it off for 2 years because I had heard from other women that it can hurt. From blogs such as yours Donna I felt inspired to have a mammogram and it was a beautiful experience for me as I took time to connect to the lady and share with her how nervous I felt and that I was worried it would hurt. She was great and very caring with me and took her time to explain everything and gently did the procedure and much to my surprise it didn’t really hurt it was just a little uncomfortable at times. I walked out of their feeling empowered and confirmed in the importance of building relationships with our medical practitioners and to express any fears or worries we have around any tests or procedures.

  38. It was so beautiful to read of the appreciation you shared with the trainee. We all have moments in our day in which to appreciate others and I am realising sometimes I do appreciate and other times I hold back. I am feeling my appreciation is at its fullest in expression when I am fully appreciating myself and so in those moments I am not appreciating others I have an opportunity to bring a deeper level of appreciation for myself.

  39. I love the sharing your offered to this woman. I agree as women too often we are in comparison with each other and rarely do we stop and fully appreciate and value each other, often because we don’t first do this enough for ourselves which is then what drives the comparison.

  40. How beautiful that you use your annual checks at the breast clinic as opportunities to check how much you have deepened your self love. I am inspired to bring this to my routine doctor’s appointments too. Thank you Donna.

  41. What you talk about here seems very crucial in that we really can all talk to each other, that no one need be that scary or intimidating that we cannot express how we are feeling through our body language and our words. And how when we do this everything can open up and become more honest and supportive.

  42. This is an amazing blog Donna, what really strikes me was that you giving her amazing feedback will have influenced all the thousands of ladies having mammograms with her since then – you are absolutely correct in that holding back our expression is not worth it.

  43. Donna, thank you for sharing in such open and vulnerable way your story, and how new this will be for many to express yourself as a woman so openly and expressive to things we are feeling that are also not loving or the opposite very loving. Gorgeous example of how nomination supports letting go and how appreciation helps building what is already there (established). Superb..

  44. Thank you Donna, it’s a vital topic of how we live as women and how this impacts our body. There is so much busyness and push nowadays, and it seems we have so much more to cram into life. I wonder if we ever truly stop and just feel? I have found the Esoteric Yoga Stillness Program for Women has helped me to make space to stop and just be with myself, to reconnect to my body and how it feels, and through listening to my body begin to make new choices that actually support my wellbeing.

  45. What are we truly capable of when we move our body gently? So much more than the mind can see. We are a walking treasure, offering tenderness, grace and love, consistently so.

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