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.
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 wrap to protect the EMLA on my scalp
The art for the tattoo — Note the symbols matching those on my wrist
Eric S. Quale at work on me
A closer shot of the same thing
Me showing off the finished product, note the tattoos on my left wrist
A close up view of the finished product
As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Photos © 2012, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and Emily Siskin
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.