I’m in the final leg of my breast cancer journey.
Today I went for my radiation consult & planning session. My Radiation Oncologist Dr. IQ* went through the risks, plans, pros/cons again and had me sign the consent form. I have a 30% chance of breast cancer reocurrance without radiation … 10% chance with. I’m in.
He is recommending a higher dose of radiation because my margin to my chest wall was only 0.7cm. So they have to make sure they kill any remaining cancerous cells. I am fortunate that it is my right breast, so they don’t have to radiate through my heart. But there will be scarring on my lung. The radiation oncologist said it’s not noticable by most people … but I am not most people. I once dreamed of bettering my time of 22 minutes for the CN Tower climb, but now I am not so sure I can.
In order to stay alive, I have had to concede much of my physical identity to cancer. My hair. My eyebrows and eyelashes. My new scars. The internal damage to my heart from chemo. The anticipated damage to my lung from radiation. My resting heartrate has elevated 20 points. My eyesight has dimmed a few more shades, thanks to the chemo. My fingers and feet are numb. My skin may age. It feels like it has. I’m at an increased risk for other cancers just because of the harsh treatment plan. And I was pushed into menopause.
And now I have three little blue dot tattoos.
Dr. IQ saw me last Thursday … and didn’t recognize me because I had Heather on for our last appointment and Foxy Roxy today! It’s 31C here and approaching 40C with the humidex, so I just couldn’t do long hair.
The Radiation Therapy technicians took me in to the planning room and took away my phone. Damn.
Julie* asked if she could take my photo for the file. I said “Yes … but I have 8 wigs. I can guarantee I won’t look the same twice!”
“OMG!” she screamed! “That is awesome! We love it!”
I said “If you heard of a patient who wore a short black sequined miniskirt, fishnet stockings and 5-inch stilettos to the Chemo Lounge, that was me!”
They both screamed. They HAD heard of me.
I am FAMOUS!
I guess I left my mark on the Durham Regional Cancer Centre.
Tara* said “Please! Please! PLEASE! Wear the same outfit for your last appointment here!”
“I will” I promised.
So who is going to radiation with me on November 2nd? I have a job to do ….
The lovely techs finished up with the paperwork and settled me in for a CT Scan, measured my breast, rib cage, surgery scars and then tattooed 3 markers on me for radiation. Like any tattoo, these markers are a permanent reminder of my journey. I cried as they pushed the first needle in. Not because it hurt like fuck (right into my sternum) … but because I am now marked again by cancer …Emotional scars. Physical scars. Journey scars. I was laying on the bed for the CT Scan looking up and the tear rolled out of my left eye. The tiny blue dot looks like a frickin’ blackhead in the middle of my cleavage. Fuck me.
I have blue pen marks all over my breast and three new tattoos in a constellation I didn’t order.
I am just so done with cancer and it’s encroachment in my life.
I know am in the last leg of the journey … and what the fuck is another mark on my chest? But what if it comes back?
The first one hurt. Emotionally and physically. While the tattoos are hidden from public eyes, my partner will find them.
The other two tattoos were in “fattier” areas, so I didn’t feel the needle prick as much as that first one. There is considerable swelling on my right side, so I am not sure if I am reacting to the dye. Good to know …
The tattoos are barely the size of a freckle. Like a blue period at the end of a pen written sentence. Nothing noticable in a tank top. The sore one is dead centre between my breasts. The other one is down further mid-abdomen. My God … do my breasts really hang THAT low?! The third is to the right side. I guess they triangulate the radiation beam between those three little blue dots.
My friend texted me “Stop in for beer and dinner on your way home!”
I’m in. I needed a good friend after today’s appointment.
Thanks, Babe! I owe you a beer (or three) and maybe a roast!
*Name(s) changed to protect the innocent and the guilty!