In September 2009 my mother told our family she had been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Understandably, the family was shocked. A thousand emotions ran through all of us simultaneously. Nobody knew what to do. After the tears tried and the shock wore off, everybody realized just how long this uphill battle was going to be. Of course, nobody was going to have to fight as hard as my mother was.
And fight she did.
Immediately after being diagnosed my mother went under the knife for a procedure called a “lumpectomy” in which the offending cells were sliced out. Following that, she underwent two weeks of radiation treatments, which left her drained, but not terribly so. After a short rest my mother began her chemotherapy cycle, a process that would take about three months to complete.
Finally, five months after being diagnosed, after being exhausted and barely able to get out of bed, my mother finished her last treatment of chemo. Mom lost her hair, but refused to wear a wig. Instead, she proclaimed her bald scalp “the look of cancer.” On January 27th, 2010 she was given a clean bill of health. The cancer had been completed eradicated from her body. Needless to say we were all ecstatic.
The next 365 days flew by in what can only be described as a blur. Mom was given the title of Honorary Chairwoman for the local Relay for Life event. There were weddings to go to, including my own, at which my mother beamed in her role of Mother of the Groom. Our dance together made everybody tear up, as they know what she had been through in the past year.
As we approached her one-year anniversary, discussion arose as to how to celebrate it. A trip? A nice dinner? After a lot of debate, the whole family decided to commemorate the occasion with pink ribbon tattoos. We booked time at a local shop and went in on January 27, 2011; one year to the day Mom was given a clean bill of health. There were six of us all together: Mom, my sister, her husband, my cousin, myself, and my wife.
The tattoos came out great. They were done at Mystery Ink, on Danbury Road in New Milford, Connecticut. They were relatively painless, but we were all so happy to be doing it that nobody complained about the discomfort. All in all, it was a great way to celebrate my mother’s remission. We all carry a little reminder of what she went through, but nothing means as much as having Mom around to show off her tattoo.
Which she will do – to anybody that asks.