Sara Coulson has survived breast cancer twice. To remind herself that she is beautiful, loved, and strong, she’s chosen a meaningful way to cover her scars.
Sara first had breast cancer really young, when she was 33 and her kids were only 6 and 4. She had a history of breast cancer on both sides, and found a lump when doing a self-check. It was hard for the whole family, but Sara beat the disease.
She thought she was in the clear as five cancer-free years ticked by, then ten, then fifteen.
But 18 years after her initial diagnosis, she was shocked to find out that she had breast cancer for the second time.
During the years of her diagnoses, she underwent 26 rounds of chemotherapy, 21 rounds of radiation, a lumpectomy, and a double mastectomy. She’s been caner-free since September of 2017.
After her mastectomy, she thought about getting reconstruction. However, her medical team recommended against it, saying her genetic risk of getting breast cancer yet another time was too high. They recommended she delay reconstruction for at least a year.
So Sara decided to go a different route: a tattoo.
She chose a rose design that is elegant and beautiful, and covers her mastectomy scars — and it’s quite meaningful to her and her husband, Gary.
The first time Gary told Sara, “I love you,” he gave her three roses, and said each rose represented a word in “I love you.” So every anniversary, birthday, Christmas, and special occasion, Sara get three roses to remind her of Gary’s love.
“This tattoo is — it’s an expression of myself,” Sara says. “And part of it is an intimate thing between my husband and I. I don’t want him looking at this ugly scar. I want him to see something beautiful because it was something beautiful there before. I am not hiding it. It’s always going to be there and it’s always going to be a part of who I am.”
Nickola is the artist behind Sara’s new ink. She specializes in self-harm scar cover-ups and mastectomy scar cover-ups. They’re different than regular tattoos, she says, both physically and emotionally, because scars are such an intimate, personal thing.
For Sara, her tattoo is the final part of her healing.
“It’s given me something beautiful to get up and look at in the mornings and something beautiful to look at at night when I go to bed. It’s just giving me a new lease on my life and our future.”
Learn more about this confident survivor and watch her get inked in the video below!
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.