February 13th, 2017
| Survivor: Breast Cancer
Some people might say, “Oh my goodness, you're not 20 years old anymore. Why are you getting a tattoo?" Somebody else might say, “Why put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?" My answer to both of these and all related questions is this: "Because a tattoo is more than just ink."
After you go through a life-changing event, sometimes you want to document it and celebrate it. Sometimes you do it just so that you can kick cancer in the butt one more time. I waited a very long time to get this tattoo because of the psychological and physical scarring my cancer treatment left me with. I have endured more needles, procedures, surgeries and scans than anybody should have to go through. I am not alone and know that many cancer warriors endure much more than me. Still, the fear of the pain kept me from getting this tattoo for at least three years.
That history of being picked and prodded hasn't left me since then, either. When I look in the mirror I see a dozen involuntary scars, concave skin and more imperfections. Some days, I can barely choose to look at myself without my bra on because of how painful it is to see and remember what cancer did to me. Not all of us get new perfect breast implants just because we had breast cancer.
But getting this tattoo was a way of me confronting and overcoming those barriers to loving myself. It was also a way of celebrating a friendship during my cancer battle that changed my life forever.
Allow me to introduce my Pink Sister, Ink Sister: Robin. We first met because our girls had become fast friends and my friendship with Robin evolved through play dates that we had set up for our girls. We have now been friends for over 20 years.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed to permeate through our entire home. I often worried that my daughter would be sucked into the stress of my medical situation and that it would keep her from being the kid she needed to be. But Robin was there to check in on her every Sunday at her ministry and made sure to give her the escape she needed. I was so blessed to know that my daughter had someone to talk to while I was fighting cancer. That’s all a mom needs: to make sure her kids are okay.
When I found out that Robin was diagnosed with cancer three years later, I knew exactly what she would need. I immediately assured her that it would be okay, that no matter what came her way she was strong and would get through it. I also knew that the doctor she was going to see was the best. After all, that same surgeon had also been my surgeon. I shared with her the qualities that set my cancer team apart from any other experience that I've had during my cancer fight and made sure to see through her treatment with her.
To this day, we are closer than our girls. We continue to text each other and stay in contact not just on holidays but just when we need a little something positive. When she saw my post on Facebook that I was even considering getting a tattoo, she messaged me right away. It was just after the New Year and it signified a new beginning.
(A little secret...we are currently planning our next tattoo. Shhh! Don't tell our husbands.)
The only other person who shares the deepest understanding of my cancer journey was, of course, totally game. Robin not only came with me to my appointment, but got this beautiful tattoo on her calf because the prayer that got her through her treatment was, and continues to be, "To Walk In Faith."
My tattoo is special because I designed this tattoo to include the word ‘Hope,’ since that has been the most important part of my cancer journey. Do you see the cute little legs on each side of the ‘H’ and that special ‘e’ as the last letter? I love those parts the most because it is my five year old granddaughter’s handwriting. Every imperfect line of it is perfect to me. Every time I look down at my wrist, I'm reminded that I am an eight year cancer survivor. I am also reminded that this is a mark I chose to put on my body, and that I am a warrior. That's why I chose to get a cancer tattoo.
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Photo courtesy of Corinne Kutz.
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