No Sugar Added: Making the breast of a sticky situation

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There are times in every woman’s life when she imagines there are benefits to being a man. One of these times is when she goes in for her yearly mammogram – a procedure that is unpleasant, and akin to having one’s earlobes squeezed between two cold, hard pieces of designer kitchen-countertop quality granite.

If one’s earlobes were considerably more sensitive. And in most instances, considerably larger.

My focus on breasts this month had its inspiration not only in a mammogram, but also in a post-birthday-bra-shopping-excursion. I won’t say which birthday, although I will tell you it was one deserving of considerable and extended celebration.

I woke up on the morning of the anniversary of my arrival into this world, showered, looked at my naked self in the foggy bathroom mirror and in pretty much the same way I’d reacted when I turned 35, said aloud, “Wow! I never thought I’d look this good at this age!”

When we’re first starting out as adults, we often have a dismal vision of how we will have held up when we reach certain junctures in our lives, and if upon reaching these milestones our reality exceeds our expectations, we are nothing less than stunned, thankful, and oft-times thrilled.

In a not so thrilling turn of events, while en route to my aforementioned mammogram, I couldn’t believe my bad luck as I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. Wondering what I had done wrong, I dutifully pulled over, and a fit and not unattractive officer of the law (aren’t they always fit and not unattractive?) informed me that I’d been speeding on the street before the thoroughfare on which he had stopped me.

He had passed me going in the opposite direction, which made me wonder how he’d clocked my actual speed. But who am I to argue? Stopped for speeding while en route to my mammogram? I sensed a story lurking in there somewhere – I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Now, approximately four days earlier while in Boston, I’d been to one of my favorite stores for a post-birthday “bra revival.” The same lingerie department I’d visited eight years prior, in preparation for my foray into widowed dating. Only this time, I didn’t need to replace my bras because Drew had once fondled them; I needed to replace them because, as most women who are over age 30 and possibly endured the joys of breastfeeding eventually discover – much like the tectonic plates of planet Earth – things “shift.”

So between the excitement of my recent underwear overhaul and the mammogram thing – I had breasts on my brain.

Half an hour after the police encounter, as I stood with my tender flesh in the squishing machine, I found myself doing what comes naturally to me when in any slightly awkward medical situation: chatting up the technician. And as I attempted to charm her with my witty repartee, and used the sad tale of my brush with the law to explain my tardiness, I found her happily sharing with me the intimate details of her own recent speeding violation.

In a fascinating turn of events, we discovered that our respective police officers had used the same line on both of us, verbatim: “The people in that neighborhood have been complaining about speeders.” Interestingly, we’d both received a mere warning. As we stood there in the glow of my half-nakedness, our keen female minds deduced that our officers had probably needed to meet their monthly quotas.

Ironically, only later did I remember that it was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Had I recalled this fact while being pulled over, I’d have rallied and said, “Hey! I’m on my way to my annual mammogram – pick on someone without breasts!”

I think all of us know someone who’s been a victim of breast cancer. And the awareness doesn’t end on Halloween. So do your part, spread the word – and get your mammogram. And don’t quote me on this, but if you have a brush with the law while en route – the right bra can help turn that ticket into a warning.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at or contact her at