“A lot of my friends have tattoos; I realized that it's not only just a part of pop culture, but a bit of a map on someone's body, which says something about people. A part of their life, like an armor or a crest.”
— Christian Louboutin
My initial thought Saturday morning was that I’ve really never had someone immediate in my life who has or had cancer. Talk about being blessed. I mean, how fortunate am I?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’ve never known someone with cancer. My great-grandmother and a distant aunt both died of cancer when I was a child. But that was several years ago, and it’s not like it was immediate family anyway.
Despite my incredible run of good luck I had managed for myself, immediate family and loved ones, I still want to help those afflicted with this terrible disease. I remain a constant advocate for events like Relay For Life and Sherry’s Run. I’m growing a beard during No-Shave November for cancer awareness, for crying out loud.
On this very day I had these thoughts, I was preparing to get a tattoo of a cancer ribbon to support the first Inked 4 Cancer event.
In retrospect, I’m surprised my ego fit through the door.
Because when I arrived at Bright Ideas Tattoo and Piercing for the Inked 4 Cancer on Saturday, my pride took a nosedive. Walking around the place, listening to all the reasons why people were getting their ribbon tattoos, it really humbled me.
My memory suddenly took a double take. I thought about the friend from high school who lost her husband to cancer. I recalled another friend’s mother who was a cancer survivor and eventually lost her battle. Then there were the dozens of amazing stories I’ve done over the years about cancer survivors.
My mind turned to Bobby Harris – one of the Castle Heights Elementary School twins – who was diagnosed with cancer recently and, according to his father, is getting much better.
Then I met Craig Browning, and I immediately knew why fate – or God – took me through this mental inventory and brought me to that place.
You see, Craig’s brother, Chad, organized Inked 4 Cancer with Bright Ideas tattoo artist Justin Doring and others.
Craig was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that attacks the antibodies in the blood. He also has a 3-year-old son and most days has to fight to find the energy to do the things most of us take for granted.
So when Chad saw the mounting medical bills and other expenses Craig was racking up, he came up with the idea for Inked 4 Cancer. With the money going to cancer patients to help pay those expenses, the effort got off to a great start and has some definite potential to grow, according to Chad.
As it turns out, it appears Craig and I have a connection. My wife is now his new co-worker.
So I have a new tattoo. But it’s not because I merely wanted to do something to aid the cause or make myself feel better. I have a new tattoo for all those people in my life I supported from a distance but never really got involved.
I got my new tattoo so I could look at it and remind myself I can always do more. I will do more. And the ribbon color I chose was purple, which stands for awareness of cancer of all types.
I sincerely hope Inked 4 Cancer becomes a successful venture and helps many people. Show me bigger fan of ink, after all. I’m proud to be a part of its beginning and not for some self-serving reason.
For now, my luck will hopefully hold out when it comes to the affects of cancer on my immediate family and friends. I know I now have something to remind me just how important this fight is and why I need to re-evaluate my definition of the word immediate.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.