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Sunday, October 12, 2014

P.INK Day: What You Should Know

     October 10th, 2014
 P.INK Day
P.INK (Personal Ink): Bringing together Survivors doing reconstruction and Tattoos Artist that have something to give.
  Breast Cancer does not have to leave the last mark.
 Lets make sure everyone knows that Survivors out there have another option.
It was about a year ago when I saw the first P.INK Video.
  Breast cancer survivor Molly Ortwien talks about her personal experiences and how a tattoo had made such a big impact on her life. Obviously, this was not just any tattoo. This was Molly's tattoo. This was Molly's story. This was Molly's Life! 
She shared her tattoo that covered her double mastectomy scars which resembled a beauty that Molly saw in life.  She was tattooed by Colby Butler for 7 hours and what a difference those hours had on lives across the world. 
Anyone who watches this would be touched. I watched the video countless times. I shared it on all social media. I emailed my friends and family. I told every single customer in my chair...
Breast cancer doesn't not have to leave the last mark.

People out there need this.

Do you believe in the law of attraction? The power of NOW? - I certainly do.

  A few months ago, I received an email from this Utah Chick :) inquiring about tattoo named Samara Noll. What a refreshing, inspiring, golden ray of sunshine is what she was.  We set the date, she travels, we start to tattoo, and as random as breast cancer, Sam, sitting in my chair says she will be back in Wisconsin in October. "For what?" I asked...
"The P.INK Event."
  So, Sam and I started our friendship...
As a tattoo artist, I have something to give. I started to work with P.INK
 and I can truly say it has been so amazing -
A Truly Genuine Experience.
 Ok ,Ok, SO...October 10th, 12 major cities across the nation were involved in an event called P.INK Day.  Each City involved a number of artist's and survivors joining in on an experience that would change lives.
As a proud P.INK day Artist, I am writing you to tell you about my experience.

 Libby Castro, Jenifer Tate, Samara Noll are the leaders that made P.INK MKE day possible. This cherished day could never have happened without them. These women have such kind hearts, striking passion, poise and confidence. Their inner and outer beauty alone could take on the world!

A few weeks ago, I received an email which was forwarded from P.INK about a 28 year old survivor named Sommer Chavez.
"What!!! 28!!! Are you kidding me?" I am a 28 year old and can not even begin to imagine.

That is why I want to tell a little of Sommer's story...

 She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her breast at the age of 23. 
At 23 years old, I was in college thinking about writing my papers, taking exams, and dreading the cold walk to class in the winter. Meanwhile, Sommer a few states over was dealing with a challenge that would change her life forever: cancer.

The cancer Sommer was diagnosed with typically only attacks the intestines or connective tissue in bones; aggressive fibromatosis in the medical world, also known as a demoid tumor.

It is so uncommon that she was only the 32nd documented case of it being found in the breast.

23 years old - Can you imagine?
This was Sommers' life!
 Sommer was a medic. It was her dream job. She took pride in serving others, protecting the community, fighting death, and being confident and competent enough to keep her cool while balancing life and death in the back of her ambulance.

Does that not give you the chills?
Sommer loved her job, but even more, her little boy. She was a single mom to an "Autistic-ally Amazing" little boy. He required a lot more than she ever anticipated, therapy after therapy, treatment, trial, error, and man - it could be so exhausting. But, all it took was one look from her sons huge brown eyes and she would remember that he was more than worth it.
 "Life was not easy by any means but

February of 2010, Sommer was lifting a patient into the back of her ambulance when she felt a burning in her chest. Out of instinct, she grabbed the area that was hurting so badly, and there it was, the lump that changed her life.
Doctor after doctor, Sommer kept up with her search to find someone
capable, who knew about this type cancer, a doctor who knew what to do. The closest one who had experience with this was in Ireland.

 So... Sommer decided to search and search some more...
And finally, after three months, she met a doctor that was not too scared to touch her.
She said that this doctor was young, fresh out of med school, and hungry.
 The doctor was honest, although she had only heard of this type of cancer in med school, she was confident and that's just want Sommer needed to know.  It calmed her, however, that was only another step in the fight for her life.

The doctor gave her two options: Treatment with 12 months of chemo in attempt to save the breast tissue or a radical mastectomy and still a chance of chemo.

A young woman, 23 years old, a single mom with a beautiful baby boy gets two choices...
Ohhhh, Come on life!

I just want to rewind those years and scream, "FUCK OFF CANCER!!!"
Fuck off.
But I wasn't there... yet. And from what I  know of Sommer, she was more super composed despite it all.

I can see Sommer saying "OK, I got this..."

"I'm a strong single mom to a spectacular-special needs kid. I don't have time to waste being sick for an entire year."

And that is why she opted for the mastectomy.
Sommer had extremely mixed emotions about it, however, anytime she started to sink into that darkness," which is all too eager to welcome us in times of sorrow, she'd look at her beautiful boy and remind herself that giving up was not an option."

Can we all just take a moment and applaud Sommer? Matter of fact, let's take a moment to applaud everyone going through this fight!!!

 -Back to Sommer's story-

While battling cancer, Sommer acquired a hospital based infection which reached her blood stream. She was in the intensive care unit twice and her parents were told to say their goodbyes.
Sommer said she did not remember much of that, but she does remember opening her eyes and seeing the chaplain praying, her mom crying, her dad holding her while feeling like she was too tired to even breathe. She felt herself drifting... and just then, her little boys big brown eyes met her in that darkness and she remembered, giving up was not an option.
She fought for every breath. And SHE survived.

Sommer is a loving daughter, wife, mother of two precious boys and a phenomenal woman.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sommer's husband, Danny, who is just as wonderful. He was there for her through so many hard times. I believe it was their second date where he was actually taking Sommer to the hospital to have a surgery.

 Oh My Goodness!
To see someone who loves and shows her so much devotion and tender support is so warming. It really makes my  heart melt. 

It's crazy that the time I spent with them was so short but I feel like I have known them for a lifetime.

After one survives such a traumatic event in life we all think,
"Hurray! You Survived, you're healthy!"
Each one of us has the hope inside us that things that will go back to normal and that everything will be ok but survivors are left with a different kind of normal which  doesn't feel very normal at that point.

Many of us don't think about what a survivor is dealing with during and after the fact.

Many survivors are dealing with mastectomy scars and often reconstruction scars as well.
These scars may contribute to a survivor feeling uncomfortable, alone, and not themselves.
 These are the scars that marked them.
These are the scars that cancer left them with...

Yes, they survived those scars.
 They are battle wounds that tell the story of their courage, determination, bravery however sometimes they can be a harsh reminder of the past.

 All mastectomy scars are unique. Obviously, they are different based on the specific type of surgery some one went through, however, each case is also unique based on the type of skin.

If being a Tattoo Artist  means I can be a resource to and make a profound impact on life...

If  it means I can take away the terrible feelings of not wanting to look in the mirror or being self-conscious...

If it means that there will be no more words like "franken-boob," "disgusted," or "hate" and we can invite more smiles, laughter, and joy...

If being a Tattoo Artist will allow someone to feel as strong as they once were and empowered...

Then YES, I will always want to be part of this.

The art of tattooing could change a life. I was blessed with that talent. That gift alone gives purpose.

P.INK is not just an event- P.INK is a movement.
Everyone and anyone that has to deal with cancer or go through something like this deserves a tattoo.

That's what we are hear for.

Sommer had a radical mastectomy which involves the removal of the entire breast including the breast tissue, skin, areola and nipple.  She did not like the idea of a new nipple but when she stumbled across P.INK, she knew that a beautiful tattoo was something she could do.

She started telling her story and browsing the artists. This was it for her. Personal Ink gave her and many other survivors the opportunity and the hand to help heal.

 Sommer and I have been working  together for the past few weeks via email along side the directors, local leaders, artists and other survivors.
This past Thursday Sommer and Danny traveled from Virginia to Wisconsin to take part in the Oct. 10th, P.INK day event.
Sommer chose to do a Phoenix tattoo which is universally known for rising from the midst of flames and ashes. She had to deal with cancer. A rare cancer. She fought and she beat it. She's a spitting image of phoenix. We designed her tattoo to unify the curves of her chest and body while covering her scars. The angelic yet tough phoenix says , "You cant mess with me, I am real and I am me."

When  I saw Sommer walk through the door with the sun shinning behind her, I ran up to give her a huge hug. It was that moment when I knew we were connected beyond just an artist/client relationship. It was deeper than that. I am so thrilled to of had the chance to work with Sommer and have her in my life.

Sommer said to me, "What I went through... Made me who I am today."

 She did not ask for that, she does not welcome it back, but man, she has such a light surrounding her. Her perspective and positive attitude did shine has bright as she does.
That may not be a way that anyone else would deal with it but that is the way that Sommer deals with it. I find that so amazing! Sommer is so beautiful and her smile is contagious.
She handles it with gracefulness and class.


Living in the NOW and kicking ass!
The last few days have been amazing and I really only told you a small portion. I am absolutely in love with everyone that took part in this event. Truly, so much. It is such an honorable and inspiring event to be a part of and I can't say enough how much fun I had working with everyone.

Sommer, Ginnie, Nina, Sandy; Those ladies are all full of inspirational, intrepidity, endless beauty. I have learned and taken in so much from this event and will always cherish it.
I can only hope to have the bold strength these women and everyone else fighting out there has someday.

 I couldn't of asked for a better way to spend my weekend.

Thank you so much to everyone that had a hand in being involved. It really means the world.

To donate so more women can get tattooed, go to
I want YOU to be involved...

There will be a follow up event open to the public with the premiere of our P.INK Day Video and much more on November 6th - More details soon to follow

Be sure to check out more

 Watch Huffington Post video

For any other questions or comments