The radiation technician directed me to lie face down, arms above my head, on a almost-hard, molded body holder that positioned me from my head to my upper thighs on the platform of the CT Scanning machine. She then covered me with a warm, blanket-like sheet.
I was here for the set up and staging for my radiation treatments. I felt like I was awkwardly positioned to look like I was about to dive into the circular portal of the CT machine.
After a few minutes of moving me around and adjusting the mold on the platform, she and her colleague called out some numbers to each other. She then moved up my left side, put her head close to my left ear and let me know that "25" was my position number and that I would likely hear that number a lot.
As she moved away, she informed me she was about to lower the sheet covering me and touch my back. While her touch on my bare skin was expected, I still flinched as her finger landed just above my exposed tailbone. She commented that I must be ticklish. I wanted to explain that I wasn't and why I had the reaction I did, but it seemed pointless. She was already on to something else.
Here's the thing. As she lowered the sheet, I was expecting a needle.
And I absolutely HATE needles.
Even with all the ones I've endured in the last month, I'm still not used to them. When I know they are coming, something inside me revolts. I tense up. I can't look when they draw blood or add an IV tube to my arm.
But I knew what was coming today in this situation.
A tattoo was NOT on my to do list. Not today. Not ever. I had no plans to ink myself.
My resistance to a tattoo is not so much the unique marking itself, but due to the fact that it requires a needle as the delivery mechanism for the ink.
Thankfully, at this point in the procedure, she explained that she was only marking me with a pen to get the positioning right. I relaxed a little.
She pulled the sheet back up covering me up and informed me they needed to do a number of scans. After confirming I was still doing okay, she asked me to lay very still for the next few minutes as the scans took place.
As she left the room, the machine roared to life. The platform began to move and I pulled my arms in tight above my head knowing how small the opening was in the machine. I noticed the extreme tension I was holding in my stomach, shoulders and legs.
The body mold seemed to harden around me, especially at my forehead and cheeks. I wondered if I was lined up correctly. I desperately wanted to move and adjust, but I couldn't. I had to lie still. So I brought my attention back to my breathing and quieted myself.
And in those moments, as I was shuttled in and out of the CT machine, a realization occurred to me. Maybe I need to come at this whole experience in a different way.
Instead of saying "no" to the needles, the tattoos and the treatment in front of me, it might make a lot more sense to take a different approach. My "no's" caused me to tense up, fight what was happening. I was internally resisting the very treatment I was agreeing to. And, that likely wasn't going to work very well.
I decided that instead of "no" as my default response, I would start to say "Yes" instead.
"Yes" to the needles and IV's that were to come. "Yes" to the tattoo. "Yes" to the chemotherapy and the radiation. "Yes" to the blood tests, the scans, the rigid molds and the occasional wait times. "Yes" to this treatment path in front of me and all that I might encounter along the way.
And, in that CT Machine, another more powerful thought emerged. It was time to say "Yes" to this Stage 3 cancer diagnosis. "Yes" to this tumor in my rectum. "Yes" to what was happening to me and in me.
I decided to accept what is. Not because I love it or want it in my life. But because it is my reality.
As the scans completed, the radiation technician once again joined me. This time to give me the official permanent markings that will be used to line me up and position me on the radiation machine for my ongoing treatment.
As she described what she would be doing, in my head and in my body I silently affirmed my new "yes" to what was about to happen. And despite her warnings to the contrary, I barely felt a thing as she tattooed me.
Moments later, I got off the machine with not one, but four new tattoo's. Four, really cool small dots on my body. One on each side of my hips and two additional dots a few inches apart on my lower back.
They are my "yes" dots.
Wednesday, November 2nd at 11am Pacific time is my first radiation treatment.
After breakfast that morning and after dinner that evening I will swallow the first sets of my chemotherapy treatment.
Yes! I am ready.
Thanks for your continued care and support.