“Happy Inked Anniversary”

Posted: October 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Mastectomy Scar Tattoo, mastectomy scar tattoos | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

If you had told me one year ago today, while I was having a beautiful “forever bra” tattooed over my mastectomy scars (that was so generously donated by Personal. PINK)  that I’d not only be an advocate for tattooing — but that I’d have modeled those tattoos for a nationally published magazine? I’d have told you that you were plain crazy!

"Modern Woman" Fall/Winter 2014

“Modern Woman” Fall/Winter 2014

Yet, here I sit, a year later to the day, not only celebrating the one year anniversary of  getting inked for the first time in my life at the inaugural “P.INK Day” — but also providing a link to where you can purchase a USA Today’s “Modern Woman – Fall/Winter 2014″ magazine with a feature article about Personal P.INK; my mastectomy scar tattoo story; and, even pictures of my tattoos in it too! (The picture of me on my bike is an extra bonus!)

Purchase “Modern Woman” magazine here

Wild, crazy and amazing, right? I ended up learning, not really. As long as you’re open to celebrating life in a state of gratitude and are open to contributing to the collective good, anything is possible. Anything!

Personal P.INK, their team of wonderful volunteers and the tattoo artists who donated their superb talents last year set out to make a difference. They did that and so much more. They healed and changed a lot of lives last year. And, they changed even more lives this year — A dozen tattoo studios across the country gifted mastectomy scar tattoos to 38 survivors on 10/10/14!

Tattooed "Forever Bra" Photo credit Bradly E. Clift

My tattooed “Forever Bra.”  Photo: Bradley E. Clift  ♦  Hair & Makeup: Annie Duncan Popp

I honestly had no idea a few months ago that a breezy phone conversation, about how P.INK and Shannon Purvis Barron from Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio changed my life, with writer Stephanie Anderson Witmer, would end up landing me as the featured survivor in her magazine article. I’m still blown away and deeply humbled by this honor.

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for putting Personal P.INK’s mission forefront and center in your article! Thank you for making sure the voices of breast cancer survivors were heard during October. And, thank you for using such kind adjectives to describe my energy and personality. My inner-circle usually just uses words like “tenacious” “opinionated” and “obnoxious.”

Seriously though, so many blessings have come forth from these mastectomy tattoos … I have been blessed with a friendship that I will cherish ’till my last breath, Shannon, my tattoo artist. Her energy is now imprinted upon my soul via her artwork. Her friendship and love is a lovely extra bonus.

Shannon Purvis Brown tattooing me 10/21/13

Shannon Purvis Barron tattooing me 10/21/13 Photo: Gigi Stoll

Another blessing … Personal P.INK gifted us survivors with far more than just tattoos. They gifted us a joyous healing. These tattoos blessed my life more than just covering my scars.

They blessed me with finally being able to move forward past my scars. They blessed me with feeling beautiful underneath again. And now, most importantly, they have blessed me with an opportunity to be a part of sharing this joyous healing experience with other survivors too.

As long as P.INK keeps asking me to step up to the plate and contribute to their cause — I will. It’s the least that I can do to pay their gift to my life forward.

So guess what? Yes — I’m a shameless “Happy Inked Anniversary” pledge seeker! Yes — I’m going to hit you up, yet again, to donate to Personal P.INK. They are a totally legitimate organization that is able to gift mastectomy scar tattoos solely via donations from caring people like you. If ever you wanted your “pink dollars” to count? They will for sure count with this legitimate organization.

Thank you for being a part of a beautiful life! I love you today!

Photo credit: Bradley E. Clift

A prized possession, “Lucky Luke.” Photo: Bradley E. Clift ♦ Hair & Makeup: Annie Duncan Popp

Various Links Provided For Your Convenience

Link to purchase “Modern Woman” Fall/Winter 2014 magazine

Link to the on-line version of the “Modern Woman” magazine article.

(No picture of my tattoos though)

Link to  donate to Personal P.INK

Link to Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio‘s Facebook page

Link to Personal P.INK’s Pinetrest page

Link to Personal P.INK’s Facebook page

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Flipped Thank Yous

Posted: October 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: breast cancer, mastectomy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

“Thank you! Thank you so much for being here!” As each survivor arrived at the “Meet & Greet” for the 2014 “P.INK Day” at the Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio in South Carolina, this is how I greeted them. They each reacted the same way, they looked at me with polite puzzlement. I recognized that look, that was me, last year.

Throughout our uproariously fun night I then made a point to single out each survivor and repeat this thanks with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. “Really, thank you so much for coming and being a part of this! We’re so happy you’re here! ” They each started to look at me like I just might be a crazy person. I could see it in their eyes, “Why on earth is this woman thanking ME for getting gifted tattoos?”

Then I’d add, “You are in store for a gift of joyous healing! We’re so happy for you!” Then I’d get the, “Okay, for sure she’s daffy,” and then they’d look happy, “But I’m getting my scars covered! Whatever,” looks.

I recognized those looks, it made for a delicious giggle within my heart.

After the survivors left the party and Shannon, owner/operator of the tattoo shop, and her wonderful crew of helpers were cleaning up, I told her what I had been doing. Her beautiful eyes smirked, she’d overheard me. I asked her, “So, I fill them in during the morning greeting you asked me to do?” Her, “Yeah,” was full of approving mischief.

Morning came, everyone was beyond excited to get going. Shannon quickly greeted the survivors and then said she’d like for me to say a few words.

I’ll do my best to recollect and paraphrase what I said that morning — as I didn’t write out a speech.

“Good morning! Again, we’d like to thank you so much for being here. A year ago, I stood exactly where you are standing today, waiting for my mastectomy tattoos to begin. But before I finally explain why we’re so happy you’re here, I’d like to first take a few moments to give recognition to some people that made today possible. People who you may never get to thank in person, shake their hand or give them a hug of gratitude.

There are countless volunteers all across the country today who put in their time, energy and funds into making “P.INK Day” possible. But the main core of people I’d like us to pay homage to today are Molly, Noel Franus and his team of volunteers. Noel and the Personal P.INK team have worked year-round to make today possible.

I had the privilege of meeting Molly, her family and Noel last year. They are some of the warmest and nicest people you’d ever want to meet. And if it weren’t for Noel and his team of volunteers pushing forward, all year long, with wanting to help more survivors, none of this would have ever happened for us. So, a special thank you to them.

Now onto why I’ve repeatedly thanked you. You see, that’s what Molly, her family and Noel kept saying to us last year. To the survivors and tattoo artists. “Thank you for coming! Thank you for being here!”

At first, at the “Meet & Greet,” I thought they were just really happy we made it to NYC okay. But they kept saying it. And the morning of “P.INK Day” Noel still kept saying it. I finally whispered to Shannon, “Why are THEY thanking US? They are gifting US with tattoos! Are these people crazy?””

I pantomimed out for this year’s survivors Shannon’s shrugging a, “Heck if I know” look. I went on, “I said to Shannon, “Whatever, let’s roll with it!”” And then I pantomimed Shannon’s silent, “Okay, let’s hit it!” Everyone laughed.

And then I got serious, I looked each survivor in their eyes. I said …

“Yours and my experience as breast cancer patients was far different than what women just five, 10, 15 years ago was. It was rough, but those women did what women do best — they spoke up and started networking to make things better. They, and their loved ones, networked until the medical community and the insurance companies made changes in how we, as patients, ere now treated and dealt with. That is why our patient experience was far better than what theirs was.

But now we have many more survivors than there ever used to be. The medical community and insurance companies haven’t caught up with what our survivor needs are. And we have a lot of them. They haven’t caught up, yet. But because of organizations like Personal P.INK, because of women like you — who are coming together and networking, healing together — things are changing!

Last year history was made with tattooing 10 mastectomy scar survivors in one shop. That is why I think Noel kept thanking us. We showed up and helped make a dream into a change, we made history. This year 38 women in 12 shops, across the country, are receiving mastectomy scar tattoos today. You are the second wave of making history.  And, that is why I have been making a point of thanking you for being here today. Thank you for being a part of making more history!

And in closing, if I should ever have the privilege of being a part of another “P.INK Day,” and if you are ever a part of one? I hope that you will carry on this “Thank You” tradition. I  know I will, I hope you will too.

Now let’s get going with your gift of joyous healing! Go get your tattoos done!””

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Firebrand Rabble-Rouser

Posted: September 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: breast cancer, mastectomy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The 2014 Fall/Winter issue of Modern Woman hasn’t even hit the public shelves yet and already, some very interesting conversations have begun — in regard to my participation in an article in that issue. It will focus on what some of us breast cancer survivors have been experiencing.  My contribution was an interview about my mastectomy tattooing experience, gifted by Personal P.INK, and, some tasteful photographs of them. Some of these conversations proved for me to be perceived as being a firebrand in nature, and some, apparently, on the rabble-rouser side of things.

Firebrand Convos

I’ve always said, “It’s often not what you know, but, who you know that matters.” And, when I find myself impassioned about something, in the name of networking, I’ll gladly repeat my impassioned schtick — because, “you never know who knows who.”

I guess that makes me a firebrand … “a person who is passionate about a particular cause, typically inciting change and taking radical action.”

Look into each others heartsBefore the photo shoot began, the photographer, Brad Clift, asked me a few questions about my breast cancer and my tattoos. I gladly told him a boiled-down version about my breast cancer and how much the mastectomy tattoos have changed my life. And, especially about how excited I was that we survivors were going to be heard from on a national platform.

Throughout the respectful photo shoot there was a good amount of chatter and banter amongst my family, Annie (my stylist), and Brad. It made for one of the scariest purposeful-actions in my life, so far, to be as comfortable as possible.

Something about that photo shoot apparently moved Brad. After he submitted the photographs to the magazine, he wrote me a very touching email. In it he said he was now a “believer and a convert” — as to what P.INK stood for and was doing for us survivors.

Brad requested to be put in touch with my tattoo artist, Shannon, who owns/operates Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, and, with the folks at Personal P.INK … Because, Brad not only wants to contribute his professional services on a P.INK Day, he also wants to put P.INK in touch with several major magazine contacts he has! Pronto too!

I hope everything falls into place for Brad, P.INK, and his connections, to sync up for the “2014 2nd Annual P.INK Day.”

Last night, Brad and I got to have a nice uninterrupted 45-minute phone conversation. He asked more questions and I shared more details. Mostly about why us survivors need to be heard from — for morale and remaining medical issues. What the medical community desperately needs to get up to speed on, in regard to our post-breast reconstruction needs. Why tattooing should be a medically covered option, and procedure, when it comes to nipple and areola tattooing; and, mastectomy scar tattooing.

Suffice it to say, I think all of these various firebrand conversations going on will help the survivor community’s need to be heard from.

Rabble-Rouser Convos

I guess there’s a thin line to dance upon, when it comes to being perceived as a firebrand, an activist, or a rabble-rouser, a trouble maker.

 

A firebrand … “a person who is passionate about a particular cause, typically inciting change and taking radical action.”

A rabble-rouser … “a person who speaks with the intention of inflaming the emotions of a crowd of people.”

 

People sometimes joke off, usually with a thread of their perceived truth, that which they’re uncomfortable about.  And sometimes, it can unintentionally come across as being mean-spirited. Amongst the conservative slice of my inner-circle’s demographics, this unintentionally happened.

Dalai Lama inner peace“Wow, Chérie could be a porn star!”  …   “Here comes the porn star!” …  “No matter how much of an activist you perceive yourself to be, to most folks you’re just gonna be a gal who bared her breasts for a magazine.” …  “Well, if it isn’t the porn star!”

I’ve patiently donned my “Firebrand Boots” and calmly pointed out how speaking to me, and about me (as being a porn star), planted an extremely negative seed in other people’s minds (who are dear to me) that heard those words — regardless of it being intended as a joke.

It is a blessing to be respected and loved within my inner-circle. The unintentional negative jokes have stopped.

As for the public? If and when the negative jokes might happen, I’ll just take it on the chin. Can’t chase down ‘n set straight everybody ‘n their 3rd cousin.

So … Rabble-rouser. Firebrand. Either way, I’m at peace. The path I consciously chose to walk will have at least gotten someone to stop and think — even if for a few seconds.

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