Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tagged And Released

There is a strange feeling that comes with being diagnosed with breast cancer through an annual screening.  You are going through life just fine, no symptoms, feeling pretty healthy and in good shape.  Then a doctor tells you you're sick.  It's weird, I won't lie.  Especially as someone who has had clean annual mammograms for years, that they found something this time around has been especially surreal.  If I hadn't seen the mammogram slides, and also seen the white blotch on the ultrasound while it was happening, I might have gone conspiracy theory on my doctors and wondered if they were faking things to make some extra cash.

Thus, I have been going through this whole experience feeling much like an animal that's been plucked from the herd for scientific study.  I confess, I spend more time being resentful of the medical professionals cutting me open and pumping my veins with poison, than listening to the logical side of me that knows they are saving my life.  And it's in that more primitive vein where today, I have been what I call "tagged and released".

Monday, I start 6 weeks of radiation therapy.  Where chemotherapy kills any rogue cancer cells that may have escaped through my blood stream and attached themselves to another part of my body, radiation targets the spot where the cancer first incubated and tries to prevent it from incubating a second time.  To prep for this very targeted therapy, they "measure and mark you".  Though, I prefer the term, "tag and release".  It feels more fitting.

These marks are actual tattoos, designed to give the radiation technicians a guide for where to position me for the therapy.  When I am done with this, I suppose I can have them removed, much like Angelina Jolie removes the names of her ex-husbands from her butt.  Or I could tattoo something over them, like many people do when they opt to cover up history instead of trying to wipe it out.  Knowing me, I will probably just leave them there.  As I mentioned to my husband, when I finally land that gig as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, the photographer can always Photoshop them out.

They are intended to look like moles.  And despite the fact that I have plenty of competing moles that appeared naturally, in addition to new freckles, age spots, stretch marks, and a plethora of other harmless-yet-bizarre skin things that have appeared with age, these little dots have me annoyed today.  I already have scars from the surgery.  I didn't need five of these little dots on my midsection to permanently remind me that, while we've come a long way in medicine, we haven't come all the way.  At a time when I'm still dealing with all the temporary side effects of surgery and chemotherapy, I really didn't need Ink Master to further distort my highly imperfect but comfortably familiar body. 

But that's enough of my pity party.  These are the times when I remind myself that there are millions of people in this world who would love to have my "problems".  It's cliche', but the notion that "it could be worse" really does comfort me.  And this will blow over and be a big non-issue for me very soon.  But today, it was a bit of an annoying way to start my day.