A couple of years ago I made the jump as I decided to put needle to skin; I received my first tattoo. That was a decision that was easy to make. Deciding on a design was more difficult and took me about a year to be comfortable with it. This was something that was permanent on my skin and having it just right was important to me.
As I sat in the chair, my back and shoulder exposed to the tattoo artist, I knew my tattoo was the right decision. I always admired those with body art. However, I wasn’t always positive I could go through with it. After my breast cancer diagnosis I knew I was ready. My thoughts traveled to the reason I was getting my own body art. I was the third generation breast cancer survivor and I needed hope. When my sister received her breast cancer diagnosis, the tattoo I was planning was needed more than ever.
You see, my tattoo is not only a breast cancer tattoo with the pink ribbon, it celebrates four strong women who looked cancer in the eyes and said, “I will not let you destroy me.” It offers me hope for a bright future – not just mine, but my daughter’s future. It offers hope that our family gene will be discovered. It offers me hope that one day breast cancer will be eradicated.
The other day I was walking into the grocery store to pick up my Tamoxifen refill. Ten steps behind me a woman yells out, “I love your tattoo!” Of course I thanked her. It started the briefest of conversations as we walked through the doors. She was walking with her head down when she had the urge to look up; she knew that’s what she had to do. As she looked up, “HOPE” was the first thing she saw on my shoulder. That word was what she needed at that moment in time. Whether it was hope for a family member or herself, she needed to see it. In the end, she thanked me for being there at that moment when she needed it the most. All I could think was that God works in magnificent ways.
To me, my tattoo offers me hope on a daily basis. I may not see it as often as I would if it were on my wrist, but just knowing it’s there keeps me going. I never thought my tattoo would offer someone else the hope they needed. I’m glad it did! I might just start wearing my tank tops more often this summer, just in case someone else needs a little reminder to keep the hope.
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