Behind The Ink: Laurie's Story
Laurie Brown sent her experience of hope and healing. This is her story.
This journey started in February of this year. After a routine mammogram, I was informed that I had breast cancer. I was stunned. Up until that moment, I had never been a patient in a hospital. The last time I had been in a hospital was 56 years ago when I was born! I thought to myself this can't be happening to me. I never get sick. But the tests didn’t lie, and I had to come to terms with the fact that I had cancer.
On Monday, March 27th, the surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled.
It was supposed to be a relatively easy procedure. But then just prior to the surgery, it was determined that the invasive nature of the cancer required a surgery that would be more involved than a lumpectomy. It would be a major surgery. They performed a partial mastectomy on the left breast (where the cancer was located) and for cosmetic reasons, a similar procedure on the right breast.
It turned out that despite the tiny size of the tumor, the genomic analysis of the tumor itself revealed that it's a high-risk cancer (meaning it’s highly invasive and likely to recur and metastasize). That all translated to chemotherapy instead of radiation therapy. In addition, the oncology surgeon recommended that I undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy by the end of the year.
This was devastating news.
When I was informed that I would have to undergo chemotherapy, I was encouraged to seek out community forums like the one at breastcancer.org. The forum has been an invaluable source of support and information (from current patients and survivors). In addition to extremely helpful tips to get ready for and cope with chemo, women have shared the many resources available to breast cancer patients. One of the women shared that she had received a temporary tattoo from Conscious Ink so I decided to check it out. At that point, I had been through one round of chemo and I was looking for any and all forms of support.
I figured since I spend most of my day typing on a computer, I would purchase the tattoos in pairs and apply one to each forearm for the remaining five rounds of chemo. Since the tattoos are temporary, I planned to apply them a few days prior to each round of treatment so that I could focus on the affirmations for a few days – even if only in my peripheral vision.
My favorite word is “Grace”. So I started there.
The chemotherapy would be administered via infusion. To accommodate this process, a port-a-cath (port) was installed in my chest wall. The sight of the wound and the port bothered me. For the first time since this all started, I did not want to look in the mirror.
Then my Conscious Ink order arrived. I decided that if I had to look in the mirror, I wanted to see something positive. I placed the “Perfectly Imperfect” tattoo near the port. When I saw myself in the mirror, I saw the tattoo. I felt better – almost instantly.
I just decided to shave my head since the chemo was making it all fall out (I was kinda hoping the chemo would make me lose weight, not hair!) The bonus tattoo “It’s going to be okay” that came with my order is a wonderful reminder to keep my head and heart high.
So far, I’ve been through one round of chemo with my Conscious Ink tattoos. I know that glancing at “Grace” and remembering to just “Breathe” helped to calm me in the days leading up to the treatment day. I am hopeful that as I continue on this road to recovery, all of the affirmations that I’ve chosen will help to ease the anxiety and fear that can be frequent companions.
Despite the scary diagnosis, painful, (sometimes debilitating) treatment, I cannot, will not, complain. I am blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support from friends and family and coworkers. But what has really given me hope since my diagnosis is the outpouring of truly caring support that I have received from strangers. I don’t mean people like oncology nurses whose job it is to care for me. I mean people I have never met. For example, when I placed my tattoo order, I included a note about why I was making the purchase. On the packing slip that came with my Conscious Ink order, I found a handwritten note from someone named Stephanie. She encouraged me and told me that she was sending “abundant love and healing light” my way.
In today’s climate of hatred and intolerance, these simple acts of compassion and sympathy are sorely needed.
If I could tell the world one thing, I would say, “Be kind.” Take a moment to let people know you care about them. Send cards, texts and emails filled with encouragement, support and much needed humor! Sending a brief one or two line note might seem like a small thing to you. Trust me, the impact can be profound.
* Do you have a Conscious Ink story to tell? Share it with the Conscious Ink family by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.