The first sting of the needle always resonated with her. She was no stranger to pain, hell; she was no stranger to needles. Something about he combination of the two put her restless mind to ease, focused only on the in and out of the needle through her skin. It wouldn’t let her mind wonder, wouldn’t let think of anything but the hum on the machine and the deep breaths she exhaled every time the needle lifted from her skin.
A moment of pain for a lifetime of memories was the motto she clung to for so long. But know, she supposed the saying didn’t hold as much sentimental value as it did before, when she was younger and more hopeful. Still, she glance over at the clock, noticing only twenty minutes had ticked away, a lifetime of memories wasn’t the worst she could do in her situation. Whatever lifetime she had, she wasn’t sure.
“How you holding up?”
The question always made her laugh. Realistically, she wished to scream and cry out—awful, terrible, why would you even ask when you already knew the answer? Oh how she wished she could shout the truth of the question, strike in at its core.
She smiled and nodded slightly at the young man who was no longer paying attention, her teeth clenching ever so slightly. She knew if she actually opened her mouth, the words that would spill would make the rest of their time together uncomfortably honest.
“You’re doing great, I’m close to finishing up.”
Again, she nodded tightly. Her main focus was the needle and the way it dragged across her skin, marking her permanently.
She supposed she should called Dr. Husuil, thank him for the recommendation she didn’t think she actually wanted. She smiled truly this time, knowing that her doctor had her best intentions at heart, though he didn’t always know the best way of showing it.
The doctors were kind, as they were paid to be. That was harsh, but most days she could do without the scripted sympathy and concern. She was blunt woman, and appreciated when the people around her were so as well. Not that those sugarcoated empty words didn’t help some, but she found comfort in the facts of life rather then the beautiful lies.
She was used to live changing decisions, though she had not gotten used to the ones she could control just yet. She was tired of the curve balls life continued to throw her way, almost tired of fighting day in and day out for a game that would never end. She sighed, running a hand through her short hair as the needled lifted from her skin for a final time.
“Ready to see it, it looks pretty fucking awesome if you ask me.”
She didn’t, she silently remarked, but he had spent over 4 hours making her body a work of art, something she would be proud to display and would know be able to share its story rather than be met with pitiful glances and question looks.
Her bare chest on display, for the shop and those who walked by to see.
She shed her shirt, the scar and her fresh ink shining in the florescent lighting. Yes, her body was abnormal; it wasn’t what she was born with. In fact, it was missing that fat globe that used to shield her heart from the world.
She hoped, god she hoped, her fear didn’t shut her down. The fear that she lived with constantly; that cancer would win, and she would never be able to enjoy her life the way she dreamed, a future when she didn’t have to see doctors whose smiles always seemed hollow. A future where her body was hers to reclaim, and it would no longer be at the mercy of the cancer.
She shook her head, ridding her brain of the downward spiral she was about to descend upon. That was the purpose of this spread, a cover story that would open the door to the reality of living with a ticking time bomb. Speaking out against the silence of a subject to raw and painful to be discuss by those not directly involved.
She would tell her version of the truth, the good, the ugly and the things she had wished a kinder soul would have her told her when she started her treatment. She would share the things that made others cry; the ones who sympathized and wanted to help on the only ways they could. She would share the sadness, the ugly and horrible truth of what it was like to live with a hovering death sentence for years, for it to come and go and never truly leave.
But most importantly, she would share her life. She was a woman: proud and strong and sick and broken and in the process of healing. She was a woman who had her good days and her bad, and days where the two bled so deep into each other they would keep her locked in her room, under the safety of her covers and high off the drugs that kept the pain at bay.
She would show everyone the humor in the shape of her scar, the pictures of when her hair first started to grow back. The jokes that seemed so morbid and taboo that her and the woman who was by her side since her first chemo would laugh ‘til tears fell from their eyes. The tired same questions she was asked, and the ridiculous answers she began to give after one to many “I’m so sorry”.
She would share what it was like to have your body betray you, to feel like a stranger and prisoner all in one. And she would tell everyone that it was okay, it was life and the unexpected way it hits you when you feel invincible. It was the ways that she refused believe her reality for so long, and it would be the way she screamed, begged and cursed whatever high power cursed her with such a cruel fate. She would tell everyone that it was okay to be anger and sad and hurt, that it didn’t take away the feelings of loss and hopelessness over finding out you life had changed for the worse. From the ashes she chose to rise: a choice to embrace the pain and suffering and to push everyday through it. Everything was a choice.
Her story would not be inspirational or one laced with pity. It would be the version of truth she chose to share, filled with her facts and turmoil and for her.
She would share her life in hopes that it resonated with at least one person who read it, who found comfort or hope or humor in her life. She would share her story with the world so other could see there was always a light at the end of that tunnel, no matter how small and cramped you feel, no matter how dark and defeated you felt trapped in the closing walls.
She turned toward the camera, confident and sexy, jutting her hip out just so her butt looked twice as big. She preferred her ass to her boobs anyways… well, just boob now she chuckled. Her hands came up, one resting on the curve of her hip, the other drawn toward the valley of her chest. She looked directly into the camera as she traced her scar, its beauty only enhanced by the flowered covered vines that intersected the jagged skin. She loved the way it told a story, loved the way it would bring about questions and perplexed looks for as long as she allowed.
“Camera’s ready in 3,2,1…”