When I first came home after being marked for radiation, Jacob immediately noticed the one line that was visible on my chest. He pointed to it and stared at me questioning its sudden appearance. I responded by telling him it was a line on my chest. His face lit up as he touched it and said, “Roar!” I laughed and corrected him, telling him it was a l-i-n-e, line not an l-i-o-n, lion. He smiled even bigger, touched the line again and responded with another “Roar!” I decided I wasn’t going to correct him this time and instead smiled and roared right along with him. For the last 2+ weeks, anytime he noticed the line again, he would touch it and roar. This has made me smile over and over again as I continued to roar along with him.
Today, I went for my final radiation dry-run prior to beginning officially tomorrow. It was a lengthy appointment where I laid on the table just as I will for radiation and the technicians took films, as they called it. The films are basically x-rays that are taken of the area being treated so that they have an additional check in case the tattoos shift slightly over time. The technicians moved me all around on the table as the machine spun around me. I held my breath over and over again to ensure the measurements were perfect and that I was consistent with each breath hold. Towards the end, the radiation oncologist came in, checked all of the films and checked my positioning on the table and the machine. She agreed that everything looked perfect, had me practice my breath hold for her and left. The technicians then drew lines all around the area that is being treated so that they could photograph the area for documentation. Those are the lines you can see on my chest in the picture. It’s interesting to see how much of my chest that they are actually radiating. The radiation area goes across my armpit, down my left side, all the way down to just before my rib cage ends.
The final part was receiving my tattoos. I received 4 total tattoos: 1 on my left side, 1 on my right side, 1 on my chest almost directly opposite of my port and one under my expander, about halfway down my rib cage. They will be used to help guide me and the machine into place each day. For the tattoos, the technician put black ink around each of the 4 areas that would receive tattoos and then stuck a needle in. It only stung for a moment on three of the areas and the tattoo on my left side I couldn’t feel at all. The most painful part of the entire process was removing the stickers prior to putting on the ink. Ouch, they really stuck after all that time! The tattoos are small, barely the size of a large freckle. Afterwards, my appointments were made for the next 6 weeks, I was advised what to do at check-in each day and reminded about not exposing the radiated skin to the sun.
The next 6 weeks will be another new and necessary part of this journey. Despite what it brings, I will rely on Jacob’s roar to keep me strong. After all, if he believes that I have the strength of a lion then it must be true.