Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Breast Invasion

Breasts are magical. They have the power to transform girls into women, babies into children, and men into…well, everyone with breasts has their own version of that. My own arrived suddenly, like extra terrestrial twins on a pleasure cruise forced to make a crash landing when their ship went down. I woke up one morning with a brand new atmosphere and gravitational pull. I still occasionally check for moons, rings or anything else that will allow me to apply for separate status in our solar system. Compared to my chest, poor little Pluto never stood a chance.

My extra endowment is not without its ups and downs. I have never had to wonder what it felt like to be a twiggy model with the figure of a 12 year old boy, which is a plus, but I did have to visit a special garment store where I was introduced to womanhood by a hunchbacked old lady with a measuring tape. That “bra”—or what my husband refers to more accurately as my “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder” was reminiscent of a medieval torture device, if torture devices had more straps and levers. When it accidentally caught fire on a ranch in Colorado I did not mourn its lost. My back, however, did. I’m still amazed Victoria’s Secret doesn’t employ a team of engineers working around the clock to solve the world’s large breast crisis once and for all.

I finally saw the twin’s true virtue when I used them to feed my son, but since he has no memory of nursing, he recently asked if we could give it another go. “Get your own!” my husband yelled which may well be my son’s quest one day. But since he is a confirmed only child, and my chest is in retirement from its service as a food bank, I have started to think about them differently once again. Especially when a tender, sore spot in the one on the left struck the fear of God--and breast cancer—into a place right next to my heart. 

To avoid the dreaded mammogram, I choose an alternative route, scheduling my first ever breast exam with certified clinical thermographer, Eleina Espigh, owner of Virginia Clinical Thermography in Glen Allen. Former executive director of the Virginia Osteopathic Medical Association, Espigh co-located her private practice with a massage therapist three years ago and entering a room more like a spa than a sterile, white lab immediately puts me at ease. Espigh answers all of my questions, explaining that thermography is a noninvasive diagnostic technique used to monitor changes in skin surface temperature. “People are becoming more aware of the dangers of exposure to radiation inherent in a mammogram, and seeking out thermography as a safer alternative,” she says. And though she also uses thermography to effectively diagnose pain, fractures and other injuries to the body, the larger percentage of her patients seek out thermography to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.

After I fill out the paperwork and Espigh explains that today’s exam will establish a baseline to be followed by regular checkups, she asks me to take off my shirt and raise my hands above my head. “Your breasts are quite large,” she says, “but there are worse problems to have.” We laugh, and as she takes pictures from the front, back and side, she points out dark orange streaks on the computer screen that match the tender spots on my chest. I have fibrocystic tissue, she tells me, a common condition that may be treated by simple dietary changes. A board certified thermalogist will interpret the images and confirm what Espigh tells me in a detailed report that I’ll receive later that week, but for the moment, I thank her and my lucky stars, that for the time being I don’t have to adapt to any new alien invasions. The ones I’ve already had are enough for this lifetime.

To schedule a thermography appointment, visit www.vathermography.com, call 804-454-4540 or visit the Virginia Thermography Clinic at Good Foods Grocery in Gayton Shopping Center the last Saturday of every month.  


  1. So I'm hearing you right...you have huge boobs???

  2. Eliezer! This is an extremely SERIOUS article about thermograms. Although, you're right. There was a whole LOT more I could have said.