It was actually supposed to be something else.
When I had heard a woman talk about it at one of my “Parent Support Groups”, I knew that was the saying. Mark, Chapter 9, verse 43: “If your left hand offends you, cut it off. For it is better to go through life maimed than to enter into the fires of hell.”
Yet, standing there, with the drawing laid out on the transfer paper, just above the beautiful heart that my 7-year old daughter designed, I couldn’t bring myself to permanently ink it onto my arm.
Brave. I’m going with BRAVE.
My tattoo — just inked a few hours ago — was something I had thought of for well over a year now. It had been more than 18 years since my first tattoo; 10 years since my second. I had thought of getting tattooed prior to my mastectomy. Then, just after. But, thankfully, I waited for a time when I knew it was what I wanted. My daughter’s design spoke to me; it called me — a twist of pink and teal ribbon that forms a heart.
BRAVE. While my other tattoos are well hidden from sight, I knew that this one would be visible. I wanted it to be a public statement of me, of my journey, and of the many difficult choices I have to face in my life. So much about this is hidden: my DNA and the genetic mutation for cancer isn’t visible; my healed breasts look natural, perky, and, well, damn good; my ovaries (when they are removed) will be undetectedly gone. The doubt, fear, frustration, and anger are all well masked by a smile, a wave, a happy blog post, or a “I can do this “attitude.
BRAVE. It’s a Love-Me-Or-Hate-Me declaration. It’s a This-Is-Who-I-Am, I’ve-Been-To-Hell-And-Back, and I-Was-Born-This-Way statement of ME. It’s a reminder that I can’t change the way I was made, but I can fiercely embrace who I have become.
Cancer has changed me. Cancer has changed my love, my life, and my being. It has taught me patience, kindness, and humility; advocacy, assertiveness, and boldness. It has pushed me to both say what I need to say; and release that which needs to be freed. It has taught me to savor a life that moves too fast; and to quickly mend over lost time. It has taught me that the only thing more important than receiving love is giving love. And, that the only way we can give love is to open our heart to the possibility that love can truly transform. We must move by caring deeply, by praising freely, and by living bravely even when we feel timid, shy, and apprehensive about how we might be received.
Brave is what we dare to be when we are unsure of what comes next.
Peace and love from one brave girl,