After suffering through a string of terrible to mediocre tattoos my entire life, I said I wouldn’t get a new tattoo until I had my original ones removed. at was my plan— until I underwent chemotherapy and needed two ports put into my chest because I developed an infection from one. I left the hospital with two scars along with bruising that never completely went away. Needless to say, getting rid of my old tattoos was no longer a priority.
I recently celebrated two years since having undergone chemo and, although I’m not in the clear, I decided it was time to decorate my scars. I’d followed a tattoo artist named Ramon Francisco for a year, and only wanted him to do the work. I waited almost five months for an appointment, and once I finally sat in his chair, I gave him artistic license (despite my trust issues with tattoo artists). Ramon surprised me by asking if he could draw a person’s head, but in lieu of hair, incorporate jellyfish tentacles that end in pixels. I was shocked and excited because Ramon had brilliantly melded my two “favorites” together—my partner (who is a marine ecologist) and my career as a hairstylist who creates brilliant colors.
All I wanted was to move past cancer and not have a constant reminder of what I went through reflected at me every day as I faced the mirror; what I got was the most precious thing I own. I don’t care that I’m a little overweight—I have this incredible piece of art across my chest and will go shirtless with pride.
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—As told to Alyson Osterman-Kerr
This story first appeared in the May issue of Beauty Launchpad magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
[Image: Courtesy of Philip Ring]