Sein Advice — Americans Bare Their Breasts
Yesterday was a very “breastful” day in Paris.
My doctor sent me for my annual “mammographie,” an extremely important ritual that women my age should make a point of doing — considering that one out of every eight women have breast cancer at some point in their lives and it is now the second cause of mortality in women.
My doctor is a British woman with whom I was very fortunate to meet soon after our arrival in France, as her style of care changed my quality of health. By using her brain to ask all the right questions instead of her pen to write unnecessary prescriptions, she has solved multitudes of health problems quickly, simply and inexpensively.
I have always felt she was a fine example of a product of the French socialized medical system, where the doctors don’t need to turn patients like restaurants turn tables to earn enough to pay for exorbitant malpractice insurance. (This is a big topic I will save for another occasion!)
She was practicing then at the Hertford British Hospital in Levallois Perret, a western suburb of Paris, where I felt comfortable as a fledgling French speaker and could easily walk to from my apartment in the 17th arrondissement. When I first went to the hospital for the mammogram, it was a male technician who greeted me, asked me to remove my clothing and step over to the X-ray machine. I was shocked and I remember saying…”Sorry for my apprehension, but I’ve never had a man administer the mammogram!”
I am still visiting the radiology lab at the British Hospital, with the last ten years of film they use for comparison, and the same technician is still positioning my breasts on the cold plastic surface. He quietly directs, “Please hold still, don’t breathe…” — you hear a low buzz for three seconds — “breathe normally.”
The American Hospital is not far away in the adjacent suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. I walked over to attend a very special ceremony. Before an impressive gathering of physicians, administrators, officials and members of the community, they inaugurated their brand-new state-of-the-art “Centre d’Imagerie du Sein” (Breast Imaging Center).
How synchronistic to have bared my breasts in one hospital and in the other, to have invested in breasts.
American Ambassador to France, Howard Leach, made a few remarks, primarily to introduce his wife, Gretchen, who chaired the Advisory Council responsible for the new Senology Center. She introduced her board; among them was Jackie Kennedy’s sister, Lee Radziwil, and other recognizable names. Presentations by radiologist Marc Abehsera and General Electric’s president, Francis Bailly, illustrated the advances made in a “multifunctional digital” system that increases the possibility of detection of lesions and facilitates prompt non-surgical biopsies.
The equipment is impressive and the dedication to the cause admirable. The people watching was fascinating…multi-national (mostly male) physicians in gray suits or lab coats, women (mostly wives) in chic evening suits well coiffed. We celebrated over champagne, hor d’oeuvres and tours to the new center.
As we headed back to Paris for dinner, first hopping on the 82 bus that begins and ends in front of the American Hospital, and hopping off near the Trocadero, we landed just in time to witness the Eiffel Tower’s ritual sparkling, a reminder of our good health and good fortune to be in the City of Light.
For more information:
Hertford British Hospital
3, rue Barbès
92300 Levallois Perret
Tel: +33 (0) 1 46 39 22 22
American Hospital of Paris
63, boulevard Victor Hugo
F92 200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
Tel: +33 (0)1 46 41 25 25
Centre d’Imagerie du Sein
Tel: +33 (0) 1 46 41 29 30
If you would like the coordinates of my doctor, please email me at [email protected]
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Happy Easter everyone! I’ll be exploring Brittany with friends all weekend long and hoping for sunny weather and interesting tales to bring you on Monday. Parler Parlor will remain open thanks to Nancy Szczepanski who will be running the show, but closed Saturday, May 14th for Pentecost.