Tattoos and Healing: Proud Inked Girl0/8

I know I can be a rather deep person, but here’s the logic and meaning of my new tattoo done by the lovely Brock Baumgartner at Rockstar Tattoo Co. He does scar and nipple tattoos for ladies who have gone through mastectomies.

I wouldn’t let anyone just do my tattoo, so I researched and found him on P.Ink (Personal Ink’s) website. Brock was involved in Milwaukee’s P.Ink Day last year; In fact, he donated his shop and time for the day and did one survivor’s tattoo, while one of his other artist’s, Ashley, did another survivor’s tattoo. He’s donating his shop, time and talent again this year to be part of Day.

I had my consultation with Brock and he immediately put me at ease and was delicate with my situation. Outside of my doctors, no guy has truly seen my scars and incisions. I was a little nervous, but he made me feel extremely comfortable. We chatted for a bit and I threw around different ideas and thoughts. Nothing was solidified. He had a last minute opening for the weekend, and I booked it. I was sent home with homework and brainstormed that night for several hours. I finally came to peace with what I wanted – something that had a lot of depth and meaning to me.

I showed up on Saturday night, and Brock got to work drawing on me, tweaking, “erasing” and making things happn. I approved and he got to work. When I finally saw the completed project, I was in shock and didn’t have many words. I didn’t cry, but did when I got home when I stared at myself in the mirror. I cried the next day. Something so “simple” gives me complete happiness and makes me feel “normal” again.



As P.Ink says, “A tattoo is the scar you choose.” I love cherry blossom trees and their significance and symbolism, especially in the Japanese culture. They symbolize the fragility of life and letting go.

The top blossom is for my sister, Liz, who was a HUGE asset to Sarah during her treatments and to me leading up to, during and after surgeries. She tested negative for the BRCA1 gene, which is why there’s no color. The next two blossoms are for Sarah and me, and are shaded pink (fitting how cherry blossoms are pink and breast cancer color is pink). Those two blossoms are right where my drain incisions/scars are/were. The two blossoms below that, which are each missing one pedal, are for my friend that passed away two years ago and those I’ve lost to cancer. When I decide to do the hysterectomy or oopherectomy, I will have some other things added.

The tree looks dormant but yet there’s still growth well beyond the human eye. The roots below the surface are full of life, growing and getting ready to produce even more flowers for the next season. The tree is still beautiful. We may go through storms and look stagnant, but there’s still growth going on internally – whether it’s coming out a stronger person and joyful, or becoming an angry and bitter person. There are only a few choices in storms!

I feel the cherry blossom tree, in general, represents my life. As I continue to grow as a person, many more branches will grow and produce many more cherry blossom flowers. My roots will grow and become deeper in the ground. I’m sure I’ll have many more storms to weather in my life. My branches will teeter and totter, with some even breaking off, but my tree will still be grounded with my strong roots. I’ll continue to be joyful despite the storms and obstacles that come my way. I can still see and appreciate the beauty of the mountains and valleys. There will be remnants throughout life that are a continual reminder, but there’s still grandeur without the blossoms at hand. Cherry blossoms are a reminder to live a beautiful life and be present in the moment. The blossoms last for a short time, and are gone. Enjoy the good times, and be present to where my feet are.

Even though the storm came and went, the tree still stood upright, roots grew deeper, and branches didn’t break.

The tattoo is more than artwork – it’s symbolism and me taking my life back. I took control and it’s absolutely empowering!

Brock, thank you so much for the lovely design, artwork and making it come to life. You gave me something absolutely beautiful, and I now love looking at myself in the mirror. I am constantly walking past my full length mirror and pulling my shirt up to look at it. I cannot thank you enough for your kindness, patience, big heart, passion for what you do, and compassion to women like me. You gave me a part of myself that has been missing for a long time. I’m happy and cannot wait for you to design my next tattoo. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

(and now I’m tearing up…again…)

So, mastectomy ladies, if you’re in the Milwaukee area and want to cover up those scars, I HIGHLY recommend calling Brock at Rockstar Tattoo and Co. You will walking out of there grinning from ear to ear, and pulling your shirt up to look at the beauty they gave back to you! Oh, and even if you’re simply looking to get that next tattoo, call him and his staff. You will not be disappointed; they are amazing!

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