There were three weeks from my diagnosis from when I actually began treatment of any sort. Three weeks! I know, right? Three weeks to digest something you will never be prepared to hear...ever. Three weeks of me to over react and swear that my tumor was only getting bigger minute by minute (I know, I know, I can be quite the cancer drama queen.) Three weeks of “what if’s”, of worry, of doubt, and yet a sense of hope at the same time, well maybe it was more of a sense of hope for more of a sense of hope if that makes any sense. Within that three week span, I was implanted with my chest port - which honestly, is the best kept secret for any cancer patient; arm veins can only take so much poking and by day 3, my arms looked like I was a part of Fight Club, so I was pretty much up for anything to elevate that problem. If you’re not familiar with a chest port, it is exactly what it says - it’s a small port implanted in your chest; it’s then, somehow, connected directly into your heart arteries so it is able to draw blood as well as act as an IV for chemo or anything other IV meds you may need at any certain point. I know it sounds torturous but, have no worry, there is an amazing numbing cream so when your port is “accessed”, you don’t feel a thing. (You know you’re a true cancer patient when Emla cream gets you excited.) Anyway, the remainder of those three weeks consisted of doctor after doctor after doctor visits - meeting our oncologist (I will always say “our”, by the way, because this wasn’t just my journey - it was also my husband’s, my parent’s, and the rest of my family‘s), our radiologist, the oncology unit floor & nurses, the radiation therapy nurses, the 24-hour infusion center and it’s nurses, back to our surgeon‘s office and so on. So, although it was a treatment-free three weeks, it was definitely action packed. Little did I know, but these three weeks would also give me my first introduction into the tattoo world.
Before you can begin any sort of radiation therapy you have to have positioning slides taken so they can pinpoint the exact (and I mean exact) point on your body which will be exposed to the radiation, for me it was my entire pelvic region. Along with the positioning slides came a CT scan so there was a lot going on in the room; not to mention in my head so it seemed I had a thousand different thoughts running through my mind at the same time; I remember one of the techs mentioning she was going to give me my radiation tattoos so that when I came back in 2 days for a double-check positioning slide everything would be right on. Call me naïve, but when I hear tattoo I picture the rub-on kind that my niece & nephew so proudly wear around the house. Suddenly, I felt a needle prick on my right hip, when she said tattoo, she really meant tattoo! After the needle prick came the drop of dark black dye that spotted my skin; 2 more came after - 1 above my pelvic area, and another on my left hip. I have always thought about getting a tattoo of some sort but could never muster up the courage to do anything about it; I thought about various illustrations - maybe a special song lyric or some sort of angel wings in honor of my brothers, but never did I think my first “tattoo” (well, 3 actually) would be 3 black ink dots around my pelvis!
Today, they are barely visible, but are able to be seen just enough to remind me of the beginning of this journey; a way for me to look back on those three weeks and remember what life was like before any treatment or side effects would set in. A way for me to remember how many people start this fight but aren’t lucky enough to finish it, but I was….and I still am.