Unwanted tattoos

This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Jackie was diagnosed with Stage III A breast cancer at the age of 28. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

This week I am beginning my third and FINAL phase of my treatments: radiation.  On my first day, I got a tour of the treatment center.  The first thing that you do is get a bar code card.  You scan this every day when you come in, both at the reception desk and at the treatment room.  It is like your radiation credit card.  I keep mine in my wallet right next to my other charge cards!  After checking in, you head to the locker room to get changed and store your personal things.  The gowns, which look more like robes, actually fit!  Once you are changed, there is a nice waiting room with your typical TV and magazines.  They also have snacks and drinks for you while you wait!

Once I got changed and watched a little bit of Oprah, my actual radiation treatment began with a series of pictures, scans, and measurements.  They create a computer simulation of your whole body so that the doctors can see where the radiation will be directed.   And at the end of that, I got my first tattoos. 

living beyond breast cancer, lbbc, c4yw, young women, radiation, breast cancer, treatment

The tattoos will be used to make sure I am in the same position with the correct alignment each time I have treatment.   Growing up I never wanted a tattoo.  My dad used to have a tattoo, then he got it removed leaving some interesting large scars on his arm. I think that always scared me from a young age!  My younger sister even got her ears pierced before I did!

But now I have four dark green dots on my chest.   Luckily green is my favorite color!  These green dots, like my scars, will be with me forever.  And I already had to decide on what my next tattoos will be.  I am going to get my nipples tattooed once my reconstruction surgery is completed.  That will not be until the fall though, long after I finish radiation. 

I’ve gone through two radiation treatments so far.  I’m usually at the treatment center for about an hour but it is mostly waiting in the waiting room and then getting aligned on the machine.  Although I have my tattoos, they still use a permanent marker to draw on various places on my chest.  It always seems to be in a different color each day!  

My actual treatments are under a minute each and I get four of them.  There is a loud buzzing noise as the radiation is administered.  You can’t see or feel it.  These past two days, they have been playing a dance mix on the speakers that are in room that help drown out the noise!  The treatment session is over before you know it! 

I will go in for radiation every day for five weeks, totaling 25 treatments.  When compared to almost nine months of chemotherapy that I went through, five weeks seem like they will fly by!

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

When you look at your breast cancer scars, do you feel a sense of triumph that assures you that breast cancer is something that didn’t stop your will to survive? Comment here or on our Facebook page.

3 thoughts on “Unwanted tattoos

  1. Jackie,
    I just read your blog and I think it is great. You are such a strong person to be making it through all of this and keep an amazing positive attitude. I hope the next month goes by quickly!
    Geoff

  2. I know I don’t have to say stay strong, because you are probably one of the strongest people I know! You’re such a trooper. Hope this last phase does fly by quicker than you know it.

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