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Sunday, October 25, 2015

P.Ink Day 2015

P.Ink 2015

P.Ink stands for Personal Ink. It is a non profit organization that brings together breast cancer survivors and tattoo artist that have something to give. The first weekend of October 2015, 13 cities, 45 artists and 48 survivors participated in  P.Ink Day.Together we can help survivors take back what was taken from them. 

(last years video recap below)

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers.
The more I  talk about this subject, the more I find out that breast cancer's nasty impact hits hard and hits home with each one of us somehow/someway.

(On the right is fun loving and beautiful Tammy - Our P.Ink Photographer and survivor whom I met at the event last year and had the pleasure tattooing over her scars)

There are about 3 million women in our country alone living with breast cancer.
1 in 8 women will develop an invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime . In 2015, there were 231,840 invasive  and 60,290 non-invasive new cases of women diagnosed.The numbers are terrifying but out of some of those numbers come our hero's, our warriors, our " I don't mess around" strong survivors....

(Tracy, Bella,Tami,Angela)

Many survivors are dealing with mastectomy and often reconstructive scars.
These scars may contribute to a survivor feeling alone and unable to feel like themselves
The scars can also leave feelings of discomfort and abandonment and are a constant and harsh reminder of the struggles and pain one had to go through. 
                                      These are the scars that cancer left them with.

So... let's do it.
 Let's take back what cancer took from them.
 Together we can leave that last mark.

Angela's Story

(Angela before we covered her scars)

This year  I was paired up with a amazing and gorgeous woman named Angela. She is one inspirational gal and a
 a one year breast cancer survivor!! After being diagnosed in February of 2014, Angela received a double mastectomy with breast reconstruction expanders that was followed by another surgery to remove the expanders and put implants in. 

A little background on Angela: 
She became deaf after suffering from meningitis at the age of two. She is a loving mother to four children and a newly single mother after being in an abusive relationship for 14 years. She filed for divorce on Valentine's day which left her homeless taking shelter in a women's center for two months.

When Angela and her family got back on track, they relocated to Waukesha and she enrolled in WCTC's Phlebotomy program that saved her life.

The program Angela enrolled in required her to take a physical exam which is how she found the lump in her breast. The following month was jammed packed full of doctors appointments, ultrasounds, mammograms, and biopsies. 

Then, the most terrible and unsettling news came and it was confirmed... Angela's lump was cancer- Intraductal carcinoma in situ.

The cancer was contained but required her to have immediate surgery. 

Angela still had to prepare herself for the double mastectomy and future surgeries coming ahead. 
At that time everything seemed to be crashing down at once. All of the  appointments were so overwhelming that Angela ended up dropping out of school and put her life on hold. 

After the surgery, Angela was relieved that the cancer was gone but the pain remained and was so horrible. Coming to the end of that battle,  Angela started attending a domestic violence support group where she met another breast cancer survivor whose story inspired her to keep going.
She stressed on the importance of self-cafe, however, still struggled and had a hard time looking in the mirror. Angela had to stay positive for her children but her body image and scars were starting to take a toll and depression set in.

Now this is were P.Ink Comes in - 

In the beginning of the year Angela and her friend came into Jedi Tattoo. It was two weeks after her last surgery and she was inquiring about tattooing over her scars.

 Little did she know at the time, that I was involved with P.Ink...
Angela is a strong, beautiful woman who has so much courage. On October 9th,  I tattooed Angela to cover her mastectomy scars.

Angela's P.Ink Experience:

After showing Rachelle my scars, she sent me the information to apply for So.... I applied to be a part of it and was picked. gave me something to look forward to!! I hated looking in the mirror because I felt so ugly. 

The P.Ink event day finally came. I was so nervous being deaf and I wasn't sure how it would work out.  I invited my wonderful sister in-law Amy who came to be my interpreter. She was so wonderful to give her support. Amy had to interpret the whole event for me and I am so grateful for her presence and sign language skill. :) It's not easy to interpret, let alone for someone that is close to you. Emotions become overwhelming... 

(pictured on left:Amy- Angela's sister in law and interpreter for the event)

The event lasted a few days. The first day we took a tour of the Pabst mansion - I never even knew that it existed in the town I grew up in. I felt like I was on a vacation and I was a tourist.  After the Pabst Mansion tour,we headed over to the Schlitz mansion where a  dinner party was held. I felt like a queen there. I imagined what it would be like if was like living there. It was amazing to be in a house like that. At the end of the night, P.Ink had spoiled me with a relaxing stay a the Iron Horse Hotel. Everything was so pretty and so cool! I slept extremely good in that bed... It was so comfortable and  I was at peace there - no kids around to even bother me!!! 

(In Front of the Pabst Mansion - in the center - Libby(the one and only who made P.Ink Mke and all of its events and spoilers happen)

The morning came, and I was up early with excitement because P.Ink day was  here. I was finally going to get some beautiful artwork on my body! A Limo arrived at the Iron Horse to take us to the tattoo shop. What a surprise! It was my first time in a limo. I felt like a child being so excited!! 

Once we arrived at the tattoo shop we were shown so much love. I felt like royalty. It was so awesome even a pink carpet was laid out for us at the entrance.

When we first stepped into the tattoo shop, a toast and breakfast was served.  Soon after the tattooing began. I embraced it. I was getting tattooed for a while. At moments the pain became unbearable but thinking of the finished product kept me going. It was almost all complete! 7 hours at the shop and about 5 hours of tattooing. The last part of the tattoo was the MOST painful of all. It HURT beyond belief but I made it through. When I got up to look in the mirror. I was so happy. I saw myself in that mirror, and everything inside- all the pain I went through from the divorce  - From being homeless - From seeing my children suffer - From having to put my education on hold - From cancer taking my boobs and taking it away from my nursing daughter - All the stress - All the anger - The depression - The loneliness... Everything just came pouring out off tears. 
It was a beautiful release. 
Seeing this art on my body completes the nightmare that is not a nightmare anymore ! I have passed it. 
I am empowered. I am reborn. I'm able to truly see myself again!

 I can feel like myself again.
It gives me strength and confidence. 

My tattoo represents my faith and my daughter. The Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley is biblical in songs of Solomon 2:1. It represents LOVE and my daughter; her name is Lily
I'm still in awe today. It's really amazing what a tattoo can do.
 I'm ever so thankful to for this experience. I am also so grateful to have met Rachelle and for her compassion to donate her time. I met beautiful people and was surrounded by so much love. I will never forget and do hope to be involved again in the future any way I can. 
- Angela

When Angela got up to look in the mirror after her tattoo was finished I had butterflies in my stomach.  I saw a tear steam down her face and felt so many different emotions.

Angela said she was overwhelmed by how beautiful the tattoo was and not being able to see her scars.
It was at that moment, all the pain that she burdened melted away; For she saw beauty and she saw herself again.

I can not describe how incredible it feels to have a part in taking back what cancer takes from survivors.
We did it. We left the last mark.

I  want to thank everyone that has had a part, shown unbelievable support and has been involved. Cheers to Libby Castro - Your a super woman polished with class and grace with a heart of gold.
Cheers to all the wonderful above and beyond friends that were involved. The compassionate ones helping out and cheering everyone on
Cheers to the artists and survivors. 

The P.Ink event is a day full of genuine beauty.  It is very heartwarming, uplifting and inspiring.

To find out more on P.INK visit 

and Stay Posted for the P.Ink Follow Up Event welcoming the public to taking place at the Iron Horse Hotel in February.