Merridy says everyone’s cancer journey is unique and she is pleased women now have a choice when it comes to receiving tattoo marks as part of their radiation treatment.
“We all share part of the physical journey, which includes multiple interventions, visiting many doctors, surgery or surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. However, the emotional journey is often just as difficult or worse to navigate. It can include fear, anger, anxiety, pain, grief, guilt, loss of self-esteem and confidence. Interventions that involve the reproductive organs can impact a person’s sexuality and this involves physical and emotional changes. Speaking of this reminds me of the enormous grief and anger I felt when I had a mastectomy 22 years ago. For me, it felt like an invasion and a loss of personal autonomy. I believe tattoo-free radiation therapy can only be considered a positive intervention because it eliminates another hurdle in the journey. It reduces the time spent in radiation therapy and it gives patients’ a choice. All this must be good. But more importantly, it acknowledges that tattoos may cause distress. Despite the fact that some women see breast tattoos as a triumph over adversity, for others it is a constant reminder of irreparable change and loss,” Merridy said.