As of two days ago I now have 9 tattoos! That’s right…9!!! I’m such a rebel!! I got my first tattoos when I was 24 years old, one year after having cancer the first time. My friend Heather, a pastor’s daughter, and I got matching ivy tattoos. I’d thought about it long and hard before I got them, for a year, and I designed them myself. I got an ivy ankle bracelet around my left ankle. I’d heard that if you wore an ankle bracelet around your right ankle it means you are single and your left means you are taken. So I had mine put on my left to symbolize that I am a bride of Christ. The ivy held significance for me in that, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer God gave me a vision relating to my experience that involved ivy. He showed me an ivy plant growing up and clinging to an old rock wall, then along came the gardener and hacked the vine down at the base and pulled it away from the wall. But then the vine instantly starts to grow back, richer and fuller and stronger….bearing more fruit. This was revealed to me to be the plan fro my life. The tattoos serve as a reminder to me to never forget God’s faithfulness to me in my life. That he will never leave me nor forsake me. That the pruning process He allows in my life, refines me for His plan.
At that same time, I got a second tattoo of an ivy vine wrapped around a cross. The cross of course representing my faith and it is on my right upper thigh. During the tattooing process I made a wonderful connection with my tattoo artist as I found out that his wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I found friendship with his wife and a relationship with him, knowing he’d be the only one ever do my future tattoos. (Brian’s in Abbotsford)
After I got my breast reconstruction completed I only had one more step to complete and that was to have the areola tattooed to match the color of the other. So I had Brian do that one as well, with his wife present…he did hers later.
When I was 25 I got another tattoo of a sun with a fish symbol in the middle. I designed this one as well and have it on my very lower back. This reminds me that each day that the sun rises and sets, I am called to be a fisher of men. The fish of course is a symbol of my faith and also a reminder to me to “Seize the Day”.
Just after I was married I headed off to see Brian again, this time with another Pastor’s daughter friend of mine, Karla. This time I got two little joining music notes, to symbolize my marriage to Chris. I had them put on my reconstructed breast, which was great because I don’t have any feeling there!
7 years ago my best friend Carmen got the idea that she and I should have matching tattoos. I designed a sunflower, which was our favourite flower, and I had mine put on my left shoulder. Just over 2 years later, Carmen passed away suddenly. I’m so glad that I have the tattoo in loving memory of my best friend.
I often wondered what my next tattoos would be of, they are very addictive. I didn’t imagine that they would be three black dots on my chest, by which to line up radiation beams for cancer treatment. But they are now tattoos number 7,8 and 9. Even though they are small, they have earned their place on my body.
I intend to get some more tattoos when this ordeal is over. I plan to get two small music notes to go with the others, to symbolize my girls. I also want to get small wings on my lower neck, across part of my shoulders. With the Bible verse reference, Isaiah 41, “…mount up on wings like eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” Not to leave out that the wings have many “feathers”:)
I intend to walk, run and fly for a long time yet! I’ve also thought of putting a pink ribbon, for breast cancer, on my big toe. Perhaps sometime in a year or so from now, but in the meantime I feel that I can share much of my life story from my tattoos. I’ve never regretted getting my tattoos and they feel as much a part of me now as my scars do. They are markings on my body that I’ve had the choice to have. The tattoos and scars tell of the great work that God has done in my life.