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14 Powerful Tattoos Inspired By Cancer

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A cancer diagnosis represents the start of a completely new chapter in your life — a chapter that will no doubt leave you feeling permanently changed. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you know it’s not really possible to “go back” to how life was before cancer came along. However, that kind of shift in your body and perspective is, for many tattoo enthusiasts, perfect inspiration for some new ink. After all, what better to honor the enduring legacy of your cancer fight than a permanent reminder of all you went through?

If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo in honor of your cancer experience, you might feel inspired by others who have designed similar tattoos. (P.S. — if you’re looking for post-mastectomy tattoos, there are some amazing designs out there, too!) We asked our Mighty cancer community to share their tattoo and the meaning behind it. Whether you’re a tattoo newbie or seeking to add to your ink, hopefully, your fellow warriors will inspire your creative juices.

Here’s what our community shared:

1. “I choose to get something small, just one word that I hold very close to my heart — ‘hope’ with a yellow ribbon in it. This is hope for a cure and hope for the future of pediatric cancer because I shouldn’t have had to fight for my life at age 7 and neither should any other kid.” — Ali W.

tattoo on arm that says hope with part of the h looking like an awareness riboon

2. “I got this tattoo the day my oncologist officially told me I was in remission and cleared me to get tatted. It says ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ [I came, I saw, I conquered] with a teal cancer ribbon (I was diagnosed with stage 2c ovarian cancer in 2015). After an intensive surgery and over 30 rounds of chemo I felt like it was the perfect gift to myself!” — Christie A.

veni, vidi, vicci and awareness ribbon tattooed on arm

3. “Yup. I got this on my one-year cancerversary. F*CK OFF CANCER!” — Leslie U.

small awareness ribbon tattoo on middle finger

4. “This is my cherry blossom tattoo, I got it after I achieved my first remission from multiple myeloma. It reminds me that life is short but full of beauty, and to remember to appreciate each moment.” — Sharon D.

cherry blossom tree branches on arm

5. “This is my tattoo inspired by my son, Gavin’s, cancer journey. I got this tattoo on the one year anniversary of his original diagnosis with leukemia. It’s a leukemia ribbon made into a ‘G’ …he is my hero.” — Frankie D.

red awareness ribbon tattoo behind ear

6. “It’s shorthand in my mom’s handwriting and it says ‘get busy living’ with the pink ribbon for my breast cancer survivorship.” — Shelley J.

shorthand that says get busy living and breast cancer awareness ribbon

7. “Breast cancer for me (13 years with mets) and I got the gold ribbon (childhood cancer) and the grey ribbon (brain cancer) to honor my amazing niece.” — Julie M.

owl with pink breast cancer ribbon on its front

8. “Two weeks after my husband of 14 years left I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer as a newly single mom. When I told him the news I realized how very alone I was in the battle. So I called my sister and dragged her to the tattoo shop and got this sweet thing on my wrist to remind me that even when I want to give up, I have to keep going.” — Amber G.

semicolon tattoo

9. “For my now 5-year-old and 8-year-old. My 5-year-old was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 4. Her belly got so big that she looked like a turtle on its back. It stuck. My mantra has been ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ So this Momma and her babies will pace ourselves as we fight and we will win.” — Amy V.

floral design with awareness ribbon

10. “To remind myself to just survive one day at a time.” — Katie B.

survivor with orange ribbon

11. “It is not finished yet, the white would not take. It represents me, breast and white for lung for my father. We just lost him on April 14th.” — Kelly D.

white and pink ribbons intertwined

12. “Blue representing hereditary angioedema and dysautonomia. Purple representing SMAS, fibromyalgia and thyroid cancer. Green representing gastroparesis. It’s for me to remember never giving up. I want to do more tattoos of this style.” — Fernanda M.

stay alive with the a as a purple and green awareness ribbon

13. “This is a tattoo of a green ribbon (gastroparesis), white ribbon (invisible illness and lung cancer), and a blue ribbon (chronic illness). I have gastroparesis as well as a few other chronic/invisible illnesses. And my mom passed away from lung cancer. Underneath the ribbons, it says, ‘Courage, Hope, Strength.’ It is to remind me that I’m a fighter and I will not let my illnesses win. Also, my mom fought her battle with more courage and strength than I knew one person could have; no matter what she stayed positive and never gave up hope.” — Jennifer C.

blue, yellow and green ribbons with courage, hope, strength under them

14. “I got this when my husband was fighting stage 4 cancer! My RA ribbon linked with his lymphoma one.” — Chris M.

purple and green awareness ribbons linked together

For more tattoo inspiration, check out these ideas:

Originally published: September 27, 2019
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