Former Grunge Girl, Yada Yada, Part 3

Author’s note: I did not want to put the NSFW pictures of my tattoo in this post. Click on the page called at the top called The Right Choice For Me – No Reconstruction. 

Former Grunge Girl Attempts to Redefine the Idea of Beautiful Breasts Part 1
Punk Rock (Breast) Cancer
Former Grunge Girl Attempts to Redefine the Idea of Beautiful Breasts Part 2

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.

Former Grunge Girl Attempts to Redefine the Idea of Beautiful Breasts Part 2

What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.
–Dave Barry


(Source: around—the–world)

Author’s note: I did not want to put the NSFW pictures of my tattoo in this post. Click on the page at the top called The Right Choice For Me – No Reconstruction.

In Part 1 I explained why I rejected the notion of reconstruction. Now I will explain how I arrived at the decision to get a decorative, NOT a reconstruction based, tattoo.

In my recent post Punk Rock (Breast) Cancer, I went into detail about my struggles with being perceived as immature, and how I got over that, as I also beat down my post-treatment depression. In short, it involved listening to many bands I loved when I was much younger, but not so immature as I’d been led to believe. While spending many a day revisiting all my old favorite bands and their music, I had the classic light-bulb moment.

Now, as I’ve said before, I’m one of the few who did not get a tattoo in the 90s like everyone else did to “express individuality” (ha ha, it’s ok to be different as long as we are all different in the same way). Until a few weeks ago, my only tattoos were the ones marking my body for radiation.

Despite what the abbreivated playlist the previous post would indicate, (or what the nature and language of most of my posts would indicate), I have a bit of a conservative streak. Or maybe it is the nature of one who never gambles, and over-thinks it too much. Or maybe it is just my inability to committ to anything (no I’m not married, and yes the fear of committment is a part of that). In 1992, the first time I went to Lollapalooza and the first time I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was great, but my 20 year old self figured I would grow up, get old, stop liking this silly rock music, no longer be a member of what was then called the Alternative Nation. Did I really want any of those tribal tattoos permantely etched on my skin? Bleh, no. I mean, how would that look on a 40, 60, or 80-year-old body?

Cancer has a way of aging a person, and sometimes a decision that seemed mature and forward thinking back in the day just seems stupid now. I looked at my 40-year-old, tattoo-free, yet scarred and damaged body. What on earth was I so worried about back then?

At a support group session, sitting on the beach on a perfect evening, a random joke about getting a tattoo over the scar instead of reconstruction ceased to be silly, or a joke. I mean, when the nipples are replaced, the coloring is essentially a tattoo. Is there a difference?

The answer is no. The answer is, life it short, who knows if I’ll even see 60, who cares.

The rest came so easy, too easy. Like I said, I over-think it all the time.

My first gut reaction was, what band have I seen more than any other, in fact, what band did I just see a couple of months earlier, in a “Done-with-treatment-done-with-bullshit-in-my-life” celebration? The Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’d just been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in April of 2012. I’ve seen tons of bands, some more than once, but RHCP I’ve seen four times in a 20 year span. I kept explaining that to some young people in the hotel lobby after the show–“20 years, folks, I’m OLD”. But the cool thing about RHCP, while I may have been an elder in attendance that night, the youngest concert-goer I saw was still in diapers. Babies know a good groove when they hear it, and RHCP brings the funk.

My tattoo choice was a no-brainer. I always admired the band members’ various tattoos. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis has the band logo on the inside of his right wrist. Inspired by seeing that time and again, I realized what I wanted. I’d get that logo…hell it kind of looks like a substitute nipple! And maybe instead of their name, I’d get a cool quote around the logo.

The quote aspect posed a problem many times in the process for me. My first idea was the quote “If you’re going through hell, keep going”, often attributed to Winston Churchill. The fact that it could not be definitvely attributed him made me teeter totter a bit.

Here are a few other ideas I had:
“I’m a survivor, at least that’s what everyone tells me.” – Courtney Love
“I don’t think anyone ever gets over anything in life; they merely get used to it.”  – Douglas Coupland
“Do what’s right for you, as long as it don’t hurt no one.” -Elvis Presley
“To the dumb question, why me? The cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: ‘Why not.'” Christopher Hitchens
“Scientists now believe that the primary biological function of breasts is to make males stupid.” -Dave Barry
Plus, the quote at the start of this post.

Some were silly, yes, but what the hell? Courtney Love’s brutal statement, Dave Barry’s stilly ones, reflect how I still feel now about the survivor language in breast cancer, about boobies-obsessed culture, and just how I felt period. But did I want any of those sentiments tattooed on me?

The alledged Churchill quote is a bit more nobel than I would normally go for, but it seemed to fit me for so many reasons. Plus it was my first, knee-jerk, gut idea. Always go with my gut. Even now, I forget to do that.

And so, my research began.

To Be Continued…

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