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[cancer|photos] Tattooing my scalp - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2012-02-04 07:15
Subject: [cancer|photos] Tattooing my scalp
Security: Public
Tags:art, cancer, friends, health, photos
Yesterday I went back to see artist Eric S. Quale at Sea Tramp Tattoo. It's only been a week since I got my wrist tattoos updated. This time I was getting my head tattooed.

I wanted "If you can read this, I have cancer again." on the back of my head, where it would be covered up as my hair grew in once more. That way, the tattoo will be a marker if I have to do a third round of chemotherapy and lose my hair again. Otherwise it will be a crypto-tattoo, hidden by the hair that is a marker of my health and a signal of my self-image.

I'd been being a wimp about the pain, but in talking to my therapist a few days ago, I realized it was important to me to flip the bird to cancer in a big way. Instead I cheated, apply some EMLA to my scalp (topical anesthetic cream) and popping a Lorazepam to mellow me out. Also, at the last minute, I added one of each of my wrist symbols to the tattoo — the zodiacal sign for cancer, symbolizing my surgeries; and the biohazard glyph, symbolizing my chemotherapies.

[info]mlerules and her friend E— took me in, as with a Lorazepam on board I wasn't fit to drive, and besides which, I needed someone to do photo documentation. Here's how it all went down….

Saran_head
Saran wrap to protect the EMLA on my scalp

IMG_5742
The art for the tattoo — Note the symbols matching those on my wrist

IMG_5755
Eric S. Quale at work on me

IMG_5763
A closer shot of the same thing

IMG_5767
Me showing off the finished product, note the tattoos on my left wrist

IMG_5773
A close up view of the finished product

As usual, more at the Flickr set.

Photos © 2012, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and Emily Siskin

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and Emily Siskin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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Jay Lake: signs-hot
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-02-04 15:20 (UTC)
Subject:
Keyword:signs-hot
Not as painful as I'd expected. Sort of like getting a filling the size of my head.
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Jim Keller
User: jimkeller
Date: 2012-02-04 15:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I love it, and I hope to never see it again.
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We're flat broke, but hey - we do it in style....: Fuck Cancer
User: kshandra
Date: 2012-02-04 16:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Fuck Cancer
Seconded, emphatically, on both points.
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Angie
User: aiela
Date: 2012-02-04 17:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is exactly what I came in here to say. ;)
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Kelly Green
User: saycestsay
Date: 2012-02-04 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
you're such a bad ass :) glad you did this. looking forward to seeing your hair again.
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adelheid_p
User: adelheid_p
Date: 2012-02-04 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I salute you! I don't think I'd be able to do that. Of course, I haven't ever had a tattoo so I have no idea.
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jtdiii
User: jtdiii
Date: 2012-02-04 16:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You do realize male pattern baldness might give people the wrong impression in a few years. :)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-02-04 16:22 (UTC)
Subject:
Well, at 47 I still don't have thinning hair or a receding hairline, so I'm not too worried about male pattern baldness.

However, if it does happen, I'll just have the tattoo amended to read, "Never mind, I just got old."
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jtdiii
User: jtdiii
Date: 2012-02-04 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh, I am starting to thin back there...

As for an addendum, that would be a good one. :)
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2012-02-04 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Alternatively:

Ignore it. I got old!
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russ: masereel
User: goulo
Date: 2012-02-05 13:08 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Keyword:masereel
Ha ha! I like the amendment idea! :)
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That Which Fights Entropy: harlequin
User: amberite
Date: 2012-02-06 19:49 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Keyword:harlequin
That plan B is so awesome that when you said it, the word awesome came into existence, becoming retroactively inserted into the timestream and our vocabularies.
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cypherindigo
User: cypherindigo
Date: 2012-02-04 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is very cool, but I hope that I never get to see it in person. You, however, I would like to meet in person at some point. :-)
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A wandering fellow on the long road
User: tsarina
Date: 2012-02-04 16:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Damn. That is one bad ass tattoo.

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madrobins
User: madrobins
Date: 2012-02-04 16:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's a great One-In-The-Eye to the crab; I do hope that once your hair grows back in I never see it again...
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W. Lotus
User: wlotus
Date: 2012-02-04 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That, sir, is totally cool!
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2012-02-04 17:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Pretty good for lettering that was written upside-down.
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2012-02-04 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A well flipped bird.
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torreybird
User: torreybird
Date: 2012-02-04 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Excellent flip of the bird.

Is it too dorky to ask how you chose the font? I applaud its straightforward readability, but wondered if there might have been more in the decision.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-02-04 17:35 (UTC)
Subject:
Courier seemed very writerly, given its use as a manuscript standard. I don't actually like the font much aesthetically, but it was apropos.
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torreybird
User: torreybird
Date: 2012-02-04 17:38 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Heh - I wondered. I think Courier's a pig to read on paper, but really like it on signs and messages such as the one on your head. Which, incidentally, I hope to never have the opportunity to see again. Congratulations.
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Jay Lake: cancer-skull_tattoo
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-02-04 17:42 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Keyword:cancer-skull_tattoo
Thenk yew. It is my fondest wish never to expose this to view again, once my hair has grown in.
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alumiere
User: alumiere
Date: 2012-02-04 18:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As someone who's recently become bald (not from chemo) and is debating ink on her skull I applaud this. It's taking control in a way.
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alumiere
User: alumiere
Date: 2012-02-04 18:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And I too hope to never see it again, at least not until you're so old that your hair falls out naturally as mentioned above.
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mlerules: dragon
User: mlerules
Date: 2012-02-04 19:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:dragon
'Twas great to serve as your support crew, along w/delerium3 (who, FYI, is rarely on LJ these days ;-)
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Evelyn
User: jaborwhalky
Date: 2012-02-04 21:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Whats crazy is last week I almost suggested as a joke you get something written on your head while the hair is still super short...

I love you for this , this is the most epic tattoo ever!
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2012-02-05 00:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Won't you be embarrassed if you go bald. :)

What did you think of the EMLA cream? I love that stuff.
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Amy Sisson
User: amysisson
Date: 2012-02-05 04:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh Jay! You are too much! (And I mean that as the highest possible compliment.) Freakin' awesome!
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2012-02-05 15:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Eep.
That's a might fine tattoo, but all the same, on the scalp... eep.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2012-02-05 17:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Damn, Jay, you kick so much ass.
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