So I had an idea for a cool tattoo to do instead of reconstruction + fake-ass nipple. Now what? I needed to do research to see if it was even feasible, and to find out if anyone in my area could or even would do such a thing.
Bear in mind, I was looking into this project last fall before this story appeared on Huffington Post, (and everywhere else) and before I got a board (an account, or before I joined…what is the proper Internet speak here?) Pinterest . So I was going into this blind. I did see a few pictures, and bought one stupid book called “Tit Tats”, which had absolutely NOOOO tattoo ideas or suggestions. Mostly what I found were designs of flowers, birds, and that ghastly pink ribbon (gag). But I found useful information too, like, the suggestion that writing over a scar, or using solid color over a scar, were not recommended tattoo options.
Yikes, that is what I wanted to do!
But at the same time, I found an artist in a near-by city that did this sort of work–cosmetic tattoos, this type of thing is called. All the local oncologists/surgeons refer their reconstruction cases to him.
I met Eric in late summer, if I recall correctly. I told him what I thought I wanted, and also disclosed what I’d learned in research–that the solid color and the quote might not be a good idea for covering a scar. Maybe I should just go with flowers or something–what should I do?
Not at all, he assured me. Not only would my design idea be ok, he thought it was cool.
Finally, the first time in this whole breast cancer mess–shuffling in and out of sterile medical rooms (and make no mistake, places where one gets a tattoo are not what we see on TV shows, which is what I pictured–it’s actually alarmingly like a doctor’s office), talking to various members of my cancer care/treatment team-I felt like I had some control in the situation.
Yes, yes, yes….the medical system is set up now to make sure the cancer patient feels in control, feels as though he or she has a say in the treatment decisions. But it is a false sense of power. Cancer patients are handed the most horrendous news they may ever hear, and simultaneously given a ton of information about disease that requires some medical knowledge to comprehend. So yes, it is nice I was “empowered”. Capable of making an intelligent decision? Not always. In fact, I was talked out of my very first decision by the surgeon who diagnosed me. When told the tumor was so big it occupied nearly the whole breast I said “Cut this thing out of me NOW…I need cancer out of my body NOW”.
“We can do that now if you want, but here is my suggestion.” She proceeded to explain that the tumor was so large that the mastectomy would be quite severe, and getting the skin to cover the area that would be removed…well, that would have to come from another part of my body, so even more scars would ensue. So, I was urged to decide that I should do chemo first, to shrink the tumor. What do you know, the doctors, the ones me and the insurance company pay for the “advice”, were right.
Sigh, is nothing ever simple? In the end, despite all the “it is your treatment decision” talk, I was in no position to make any call. The fact I have a B.A. in Literature, not in anything remotely medical or science-y, probably had something to do with that. That is not to say I was a complete moron about what was going on, or a submissive little patient all along. It is just a difficult time to learn all one needs to know to make informed decisions, especially when one thinks they need to be made quickly. But all this is another post.
So, full steam ahead! I was still hemming and hawing about the quote. I would continue to do that for the next several months…while dealing with the holidays (which for me start in October, because Halloween is my favorite), my mother’s health scare, and the dreaded six month check-up activities (blood, mammogram, and that stressful meeting with the oncologist).
During all of that I decided, yes go with my gut, stick with the Churchill quote. I called Eric back, during all of this he’d been kind enought to draw a draft of the idea. The deed would be done in February.
Up soon, the semi-conclusion of this tale.