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Cancer in Quarantine Diaries: Free Tattoos

Just not the one I expected
Cancer in Quarantine Diaries: Free Tattoos

Just not the one I expected

Photo by Gabriel Laroche on Unsplash

Who knew that when you go through cancer that would you have the opportunity to get a free tattoo, or in my case FOUR?! Not I!

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in early February 2020 I was inundated with information. Some from Google. Some from friends. And most importantly, information from my doctors. It still rocks my world that I have an oncologist and not just one, but two! I have a medical oncologist who oversees most of my care and my chemo and post chemo treatment plans. And I have a radiation oncologist who provides my radiation treatment plan. Side note — they didn’t agree with each other when it came to the initial treatment plan, but they ended up deciding more treatment was better. Fingers crossed that was the right path because otherwise I went through a heck of a lot for nothing.

There was so much information that I blocked off the treatment into phases and there are just too many to note.

I’m currently in my post lumpectomy/post chemo daily radiation phase.

I finished chemotherapy almost three weeks ago and began radiation earlier this week. I have flashed so many people in the last five months that I could probably be my own Mardi Gras parade. Can one person be a parade? If so, that person is definitely me. I’m still oddly modest and keep forgetting to slip my arm out of my hospital gown when it’s time for the actual radiation treatment and have to be reminded.

What I can tell you about radiation is that the technicians play great music, they work fast and efficiently, and I’m usually in and out in less than 10 minutes and that includes undressing and dressing.

As much as I love Boys II Men, being serenaded by the technician, and how End of the Road brings back memories of an 8th grade gymnasium filled with newly minted teenagers with sweaty palms awkwardly slow dancing in the dark, I don’t know if it was the right song to play during my first week of radiation treatment. It brought the morbid thoughts of cancer being my end of the road. Fortunately, treatment is going well so maybe not. I’ve got too much to live for and I mean that sincerely.

I was forewarned two weeks ago that I was going to be given little tattoos to help the technicians correctly place me for treatment. They were not lying! I legit have 4 teeny tiny tattooed dots on my chest. One of them is high enough that I can see it above the neckline of a modest v-neck t-shirt. The other goes in a straight line down to my bra line and there are two more in an, ahem, more sensitive place on my chest. They look like someone accidentally poked me with an ink pen. I’m sure someone will point out the higher one because you can totally see it above my top’s neckline and I will spend years telling people: “No, that’s just my radiation tattoo, but thanks for pointing it out and for the reminder I have cancer.”

The technician promised me that she will design a more elaborate tattoo that encompasses all four dots. I think I might hold her to that. Just kidding.

I have been wanting a tattoo on my forearm or wrist for some time. I wanted something inspirational written on my wrist such as Je Suis Prest. Bonus points if you know where the phrase became popular. Where my Ladies of Lallybroch at?

These four little dots on my chest are not what I had in mind. But now I know that I am a wimp and the idea of getting a tattoo makes me wonder if I could sit for a period of time while someone inks me. At the same time, Je Suis Prest on my wrist would be a nice reminder that while I have never felt like it, I have always been ready for the next step in my treatment, checking off each phase, and keeping my focus on moving forward. And that I will always ready to celebrate life and that I am still here.

Mom, pretend that you’re not reading this and that I want a tattoo. Pretend I never mentioned it because it’s still on the table to celebrate the end of my cancer treatment.

The four little tattoos on my chest may not have been what I wanted, but they are a good reminder of what I’ve gone through and what I’ve overcome thus far.

Je Suis Prest!