Mammograms — they’re uncomfortable and scary, but once women reach a certain age, they become a necessary part of life.
Being the best test available for doctors to detect early signs of breast cancer, all women over 40— yes, even celebrities — eventually have to go have them. The universal procedure requires women to place their breasts on an X-ray machine, and that can be a very vulnerable experience.
Medical practitioners are meant to guide their patients through the exam to make it as comfortable as possible, so what happens when something feels off, or inappropriate? Comedian Sarah Silverman endured such an experience just this week, and spoke up about it on social media.
On Wednesday, in an Instagram post of a close-up shot of her (covered) breasts, Silverman, 48, shared the “shitty time” she had at her mammogram appointment earlier that day. Because she has “dense breasts (insert joke here)” the comedian had to follow up her X-ray with an ultrasound, done by the same male radiologist as the year prior. In the post, Silverman explained in detail why she doesn’t like him.
“He opened my gown and put gel on my breasts and smeared it around with his bare hands,” the Wreck-It Ralph star wrote. After talking to the radiologist for a bit with her breasts bare — cold and covered in gel — Silverman finally spoke up: “Hey, can we either talk about this when I’m dressed or while you’re doing the ultrasound?” she said. “I’m not comfortable with my breasts out just shooting the shit with you.”
Unfortunately, however, the discomfort didn’t stop there. Silverman says the radiologist then proceeded to drag his fingers on her breasts, just as he did last year. When she asked if it was necessary for him to touch her like that, he said: “No, I do that for balance.”
Silverman quipped back, “Well, I believe in you, and I think you can do it without your fingers on me.”
She adds that she doesn’t think the radiologist was “getting off” on touching her inappropriately, but part of his job is to be aware that the procedure is vulnerable for women. “Wear fucking gloves, this isn’t a date,” she said. “For him to be so arrogant that he didn’t even internalize the problem when I said something to him about it last year is obnoxious and probably a subconscious power thing if we’re getting deep.”
After this second horrible mammogram, Silverman says it’s the last time she’ll see the radiologist or “any dude” for a medical exam.
It took Silverman years before she felt confident to stand up for herself. “It’s uncomfortable and too easy to think it’s all in your head,” she says “Arrogant fucks like this doctor take advantage of women’s socialized instinct to not speak up.”
Her Instagram post was quickly inundated with supportive messages from fans, friends, and even physicians encouraging her to report the radiologist for malpractice.
“YOU ARE SUCH A POWERFUL QUEEN, THANK YOU FOR POSTING,” Broad City star Ilana Glazer commented.
If you’re ever in a position where your medical practitioner makes you feel uncomfortable during a mammogram — or any procedure — heed Silverman’s advice and speak up. As she says, “Trust that thing in your gut that tell you this shit ain’t right”