Left wrist, facing up, showing a pink ribbon in the shape of an 'S' with the word survivor behind it. Above it is a parentheses, a negative sign, a parentheses to the third indicating triple negative.
Breast Cancer,  Life After Cancer

My Tattoo. More than just ink

The Pink Ribbon Tattoo was due for a touch-up.   Pretty strange considering when I was a kid, there were two things I swore I would never do.  The first was I was never going to take care of my parents the way my mom and dad had to take care of my mom’s parents.  Fast forward – I became my dad’s caregiver when it became too much for my mom.

The second thing was I was never going to get a tattoo.  Fast forward to June 9, 2017 where you’ll find me sitting in the tattoo parlor preparing for my first – and only – the pink ribbon breast cancer tattoo.  Up until that moment, if you asked whether I would ever get a tattoo, I would have replied ‘no’.  Yet, there I was, waiting while the tattoo artist prepped my wrist, to inject dyes into my skin that would mark me for life.  There was only one thing that could have made me change my mind… and if you guessed breast cancer you are the winner!

Tattoos are stupid

As far back as I can remember, I swore up and down how stupid tattoos were (Please!  No offense!  Remember, I now have one.).  I had many reasons… they were tacky, they were permanent, why would anyone want to deliberately do that to themselves, they might look good now, but what were they going to look like in 50 years, yada-yada-yada.  I would berate anyone who mentioned getting a tattoo – okay.  I would berate any minor who mentioned getting a tattoo with vague threats of disowning them if they did.  Good thing I didn’t, because now they would be able to label me a hypocrite!

My husband completely, 100% agreed with me.  He too is not a fan of anything to do with piercings, tattoos, those ear lobe discs (Okay – this one I can truthfully say I do not understand why anyone would want to do that?  Do they not realize what’s going to happen when they’re 90 years old and their skin is loose and hanging there??)  So when I say informing hubby of the possibility of a tattoo and asking him to not be mad, took a lot of guts, that might be a bit of an understatement.

My husband is a great man, but keeping his silence about something that he is passionate about is not one of them.  So how did I get to that point?  Hold on!  I’m getting there.  Keep your pants on!

Tattoo Designed

During my chemo treatments between March and June of 2016, as you can imagine, or even know for yourself, I found myself with a lot of spare time on my hands.  When I couldn’t work, I was oftentimes on the couch at home.  I did what I could to stay busy… I did adult coloring books, worked on some word search finds (which oftentimes irritated me more than entertained me because they are too easy), watched A LOT of the Food Network and HGTV, and slept.  Especially Chip and Joanna Gaines from The Fixer Upper.  (If you remember from a previous post – How I Taught Myself to Simplify – I cleaned out my closets too!)

Somewhere in the midst of all that, a design started creeping into my mind.  A design I fell in love with.  I searched high and low on the internet, I searched Pinterest, and saw many glorious breast cancer tattoos.  Yet, even as I drew that design out, a HUGE piece of me was yelling out what the heck do you think you’re doing?  Designing a tattoo?  You hate them.  With a passion I might add.  Besides, I told myself, chemo has given you nothing but skin rashes, reactions, and problems.  Getting a tattoo will probably be the dumbest thing you will ever have done.

So I put it aside.

And went on with my daily activities of learning this new life called living with breast cancer.

Tattoo Realized

Only problem was the thought would not go away.  It wasn’t like it was my every waking moment thought.  I didn’t dwell on it.  But randomly, in unexpected moments, the tattoo design would pop into mind.  And then, just around the corner, only a few months away, the big numero uno was coming.  The one year ago diagnosis of breast cancer.  The date on the calendar that changed my life, my husband’s, my daughter’s, and my family’s life forever.  And like a neon flashing billboard sign, the tattoo design began infiltrating itself more and more.  So, I did the unthinkable.  I went to talk to a tattoo artist.

The next thing I knew, I was sending her the design via email, and suddenly, on June 9, 2017 there I was, sitting in the chair, waiting for her to start.  Why that date?  Because not only had I survived my one year cancerversary, but I had now reached another milestone in that I had reached my one year anniversary of my last chemo … June 9, 2016.

Why the change in my mentality?  There are days when I would say I really do not know.  Yet, other days I can feel it welling up, from somewhere deep down, so deep that oftentimes it is forgotten about, it is there.  I am pissed.

Tattoos Meaning

I am pissed that I was diagnosed.  I am pissed that I have BRCA1 gene.  I am beyond pissed that my 22-year old daughter is also BRCA1.  I am pissed that she is going to have to make decisions in her mid-30’s that no one in their right mind should ever have to decide.

I am pissed (albeit this could count as a good pissed) that because of my diagnosis, my sister discovered she had kidney cancer and must live this journey as well.  I am pissed that my husband, despite his fears, had to be the one to hold me up when all I could do was cry.  The one who with no hesitation for his health, took over taking care of me in a way I had never seen him display before.

I am pissed because I live every day with anxiety, and fear, and depression – because not only am I BRCA1, I am also in the 5% of women diagnosed with breast cancer that has Triple Negative.  I am pissed because all that means is my risk of re-occurrence is higher.  I am just pissed about it all.

Tattoo Completed

Yes, there are good things.  Hard to believe, but I’ve wrote about them here before.  I no longer have fears to achieve what I dream of.  I am pursuing photography, I am pursuing dog training, specifically service dogs.  (I have great dreams of taking that a lot further.)  I am here…. Blogging.  Sharing my journey with anyone who will listen.  Because I want them to know more than anything in this whole entire world – that despite each of our journeys being different YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I am here.  Sitting beside you, encouraging you, holding you up when you feel like you just can’t go on any further.  I am here.

And that is what my tattoo means to me.  I am here.  I battled the beast that tried to take everything that is so precious to me away from me.  And I won.

So despite my husband hating the idea, and my thinking tattoos were dumb and stupid and that I would never want one, here I sit with a tattoo that I absolutely love.

And every day I look at it I can proudly say – go to hell cancer.  I am here.

Left arm leaning against the arm rest of a tattoo artist chair. Left wrist displays Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon in the shape of an 'S' with the word survivor.
The original tattoo obtained on 06/09/2017. A Pink Ribbon in the shape of an ‘S’, and the word survivor. This is my own handwriting. Getting ready for the prep work.
Blue gloved hands of tattoo artist applying a small white piece of paper to the left wrist, slightly above the current tattoo.
The tattoo artist transfers the design to a piece of paper, which is then transferred to the skin.
Blue gloved hands of tattoo artist holding tattoo gun and applying new colors to the tattoo.
I would like to say that after all I’ve been through getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt. But it does. Only way to describe it is like 1,000 little tiny rubber bands being slapped against your skin.










Close up photo of blue gloved hands, holding tattoo gun with pink dye to the pink ribbon.
Brightening up the pink on the pink ribbon.
Left wrist, facing up, showing a pink ribbon in the shape of an 'S' with the word survivor behind it. Above it is a parentheses, a negative sign, a parentheses to the third indicating triple negative.
The final tattoo… updated to include the symbol for triple negative. My handwritten testimony that I am a survivor.
Photo of black bandage covering tattoo area.
Covering it up for 3-12 hours.








Until next time, capture life kreatively!!


P.S.  Leave me a comment… has cancer helped you do something you never thought you’d do before?  Let me know.  I want to hear!

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At 50 years old I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I am currently NED (no evidence of disease), and trying to spend every day reviewing the world through the new lens I wear as a breast cancer survivor.


  • Brandy

    I don’t have any tattoos but have always loved the symbolism in the tattoos of survivors. The strength, courage, fight, pain and journey wrapped up in beautiful art and worn forever like a badge.

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