These are my ‘tatts’. My ‘tit-tatts’, I guess you could call them. (I don’t wish to be crude, but I want you to remember the message of this post.) These are the tattoo dots that are etched permanently into the positions the radiographers used when I had radiotherapy treatments after surgery for breast cancer. No, the tattoos didn’t hurt. The radiation didn’t hurt either, at the time. But it made me tired, and I had a nasty heat rash all over the area where I was treated, and there were after effects. The treated breast tissue is changed by the radiation and remains larger. New bras, girlfriends. I needed physical therapy treatments as well as continued self treatment to loosen the muscles of the underarm area which painfully tightened.
I was lucky.
I had treatable cancer and it was caught early. And that is the reason for this post. A routine mammogram was the key factor. A talented radiographer saw in my very dense tissue a ‘spot’. To you and I it would look the same as all the other dense spots of tissue.
But it wasn’t.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Take care of yourself and urge your loved ones to do the same. Get routine mammograms and do self-testing. Life is precious. We are precious to someone; and we must be our own advocates.
This photo was taken the same year my paternal Grandmother had a radical mastectomy. She lived another 30 years and did not die from cancer. I am the 3 year old little girl holding her hand. Believe me, my life would have been the poorer if she had not survived. I had breast cancer at the same age as her. I knew about her cancer because she and my own Mother, who is a nurse and cared for her, talked about it. But there was a lot I didn’t know about it, and have since learned.
As well as the cancer category of this blog, where I talk about my time in treatment, here are a couple of things that you, or someone you love, may find useful or interesting:
The Emperor of all Maladies – A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Amazon paperback (This book tells the history of cancer and treatment and is very readable and interesting, except for a chapter or two that are a bit ‘scientific’. A word of caution; it is somewhat confronting in its honesty about past treatments and about prognosis of certain cancers. I read it the same year I was treated and had to put it down a time or two, but was very glad to have read it when I finished)
Courage Through A Lens – A breast cancer journey (I wrote about this photographic journey in a past post. It was a remarkable, if confronting, ebook, link on old post here.)
I donate to http://www.abcr.com.au/about/ because 100% of their proceeds go toward research.
I do not dwell on this event, any more than I dwell on other major events/lessons one has in life. However, it is my goal to shed light whenever I can. I learn things and share them.
Live, learn, share.
For those of you unaware, you can read my ‘about’ page; I started this blog while in treatment, to let my family and friends know about my journey since I was 1000 miles away from home for the surgery (Adelaide), and 1000 miles the other way from home for the treatment (Darwin)