Exciting days were forthcoming, one last treatment of chemo and I was done. My mind could not grasp the idea of reaching this great milestone in my cancer journey. Tough days were behind me and a new uncharted season was upon me. Tired of the way things had been, I was looking forward to a new day without the dreadful poison running through my body. I had experienced so much pain, that at times, I felt like pretending to not care or being cold was the only way to live in this world. I experienced all these thoughts and changes in mindset as I endured each stage in my cancer battle. Finally, it’s all over and done with or was it?
Chemo was over but my next step in my cancer plan was high dose radiation. I thought to myself, am I ready, I will do whatever it takes to continue fighting. At this point in time, with all the scars and battles experienced, I had a positive attitude going into radiation. Up to now, my life had been consumed with chemo as a treatment so even though I do recall reading information on radiation, I could not for the life of me remember any details of this course of treatment. In my mind, my inner voice said everything will be okay, I will figure it out, no worries.
I went to a different hospital with a cancer treatment center to receive my radiation treatment so I had to redo all the fun and exciting forms again. I know all the paperwork is necessary but to a cancer patient, you end up having to fill out so many documents every time you take tests as an outpatient that by this time, I was just exhausted but I had to suck it up and just fill out all the forms. They reviewed the paperwork and performed a routine check up of me. I was in a new medical facility but it was the same old routine. I was taken to a room and while I was waiting, they came to tell me to take off my blouse only and put on the gown and that they would call me in a few minutes. I said ok, thank you. I thought this was odd but then again, I knew that I had not gone through the radiation information orreread it to refresh my memory so I was pretending like I knew what was going to happen. They called me into this room and told me to lie down on a testing table bed type thing. I was asked to open my gown and I am wondering why, what’s happening. She told me well, we have to measure you so we can put the tattoo marks for your radiation treatment. I said, pardon me, tattoo marks. Don’t get me wrong, I had always thought of getting a tattoo but my fear of the pain from the needle caused me to pause and rethink it. In my head, I thought this is ironic, fear of pain and needles prevented me from going through with it to get a tattoo and now by this point, pain and needles were embedded in my daily battle with cancer. She told me yes, tattoo dots are made in order for the radiation therapist to be able to aim the radiation precisely in the same place in order to prevent recurrence and to spare healthy tissue from being affected. This is the price you pay for radiation treatment, tattoo dots.
Up to today, I have not gotten a tattoo but I do have my tattoo dots which the best tattoo I can have since these are some of my battle wounds that remind me of my battle with cancer. These tattoo dots symbolize the victory over cancer despite all difficulties sustained throughout my journey.
Reblogged this on Cancer: The Upside.
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Yes, this tattoo is your badge of honor and courage. I can tell you now… I went through a lot when I had a breakdown and became psychotic and was roaming the streets looking for answers in strangers’ faces and suffered many side effects from all the medicines my psychiatrist kept trying me on but that was not physical stuff like hospitals and needles and radiation and chemo. I don’t think I would have the courage for that. You are a better person than I– more courageous. The mental problems took courage, yes, but physical problems are my weakness. I was working at the time… I would not go on disability though my doctor thought I should. Years later I eventually did. At age 50. After supporting my husband for awhile while he went to Social Work school. The physical stuff is just too much to deal with when you have mental problems as well. I think you were blessed in a way, correct me if I am wrong, but I think you are blessed with a “normal” mind. It is very hard to fight for both– for the health of the mind and the health of the mind. Everyday is still a battle. Even with medication. I know you said you are still fighting the effects of chemo and still have pain. I am so very sorry. 😢
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Ellen I think we are both dealing with different kinds of pain. I admire your resilience and strength. Living with bipolar disorder daily and still being able to work and support your husband while he went to school is admirable. I don’t think I could accomplish everything you have with your daily struggles honestly. You are such an inspiration. I’m so sorry for all the struggles you have endured and are still experiencing. Please know that you are also in my prayers.
One of the many things that my cancer battle taught me is that I was blessed with a high tolerance for physical pain. However mental anguish is my weakness. Other side effects of chemo and radiation is OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), high levels of anxiety and periods of severe depression with suicidal thoughts. During the periods that I have both physical and mental pain is when the suicidal thoughts resurface. Only God can help me see the light through the darkness. I have to constantly focus on the miracle that I got a second chance to live and push the negative thoughts out.
Ellen you are a true inspiration. You are the symbolic meaning of the Phoenix personified.
“The symbolic meaning of the phoenix is about renewal. The phoenix is about overcoming darkness and rising to the challenge to become powerful and succeed.”
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Oh, Kelly, I had no idea that chemo and radiation have mental side effects. I know those side effects well but I don’t deal with them as well as you do. You truly understand what I am dealing with but my situation is not as bad as yours and I am old anyhow so it is to be expected that a person may suffer. Thank you so much for saying such things about me being inspiring but I don’t think so. And my husband hears a lot of belly aching from me which I feel badly about and which he does not totally understand. YOU are the one those words apply to. We can pray for each other and understand each other. Thank you so much, dear Kelly, for your prayers and for ‘being you.” 💖😍🙏