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Tattoos for a Cure - Fundraiser

Heatherbelle's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Jun 2010

I just wanted to share something that my friends did for me, and for us, over the weekend.
I realize that tattoos are not for everybody, but there are ALOT of misconceptions out there about people who are tattooed/tattoo artists and tattoo shops.
My friend Zaq owns a tattoo shop in St. Joseph, Michigan. I met him about 5-6 years ago when he was working in a tattoo shop in town, and a friend and I decided on a whim to get little cherry tattoos on our feet. I stayed in contact with him after that, and got another one by him a couple years ago on my birthday. Since then, he has opened up his own shop and hired 2 other artists to work for him, and he has quite a reputation in the tattoo community as a great young artist, and I'm very proud of how his work and his company has grown. When I was diagnosed last year, I contacted Zaq, and told him what was going on, and asked him to do a small lotus flower tattoo on the inside of my wrist, to remind myself to stay calm and try & relax as I was just getting ready to start chemo. He followed my updates & we talked through facebook throughout my treatment. After I was all done with chemo, and working on recovering, earlier this summer I got my half sleeve anchor tattoo that is my profile picture. It has been featured on quite a few tattoo magazine websites, and last month I entered it in the "Fight Like a Girl" websites contest for best cancer awareness/tribute tattoo, and I won first place. Upon completion of the anchor tattoo, Zaq informed me that he wanted to do some kind of fundraiser for breast cancer.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, Oct 8th. His shop held "Tattoos for a Cure" - they were doing $20 cancer awareness tattoos, and 100% of that money is going to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this Saturday in my town. They started at noon, and people could sign up for it until 8:00 p.m. There were 3 artists, and they promised to stay at the shop and make sure that EVERYone who had signed up would get tattooed. The last tattoo was finished at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Three guys, 103 tattoos done, and over $2100 raised for Making Strides. I got a pink ribbon tattoo on the inside of my left foot, my husband got one on the side of his calf, my friend got one on her foot. I stayed there about 8 hours, helping out however they needed me to. I talked to alot of young women with bc in their family and the importance of self exams. I talked to alot of long time survivors. The oldest person getting tattooed was an 80 year old woman. This was an AMAZING event. These guys worked their butts off, not taking any break longer than 5 minutes to eat a snack or use the restroom. This isn't some dingy shop filled with thugs or bikers. It is cleaner than most doctor's offices. They are professional, and there is an art gallery in the front area of the shop.
I just wanted to share this with you - I was just blown away by the amount of support I've gotten from these friends of mine through this, and that they would do something like this for all of us <3

tgf's picture
Posts: 954
Joined: Mar 2009

Wish I'd been there ... I would have gotten one.

Did everyone get the "basic" pink ribbon tattoo ... or what? Just curious.


camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

What a great thing. I got a tatoo across my Mastectomy scar about a year after my surgeries were done in 2003. It is much bigger than I anticipated, and Sue the artist has gone on to use it on her business cards and is now doing quite a few and she does quite reasonably. I love it, it is a beautiful humming bird drinking from a pink hibiscus. It is so nice to get out of the shower and see a thing of beauty rather than the scars.

Your friends were very generous to donate their time and talents to this cause!


Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

Heather, what an amazing day! I like that you are so outspoken about your cancer and see talking about it as a way to help others. Zaq sounds like a great guy!

mwallace1325's picture
Posts: 806
Joined: Apr 2009

What a great thing for Zaq and his shop to do.

If I'd been there I'd have a new one too.


Bella Luna's picture
Bella Luna
Posts: 1579
Joined: Aug 2009

Heather... you are a Dynamo of a spokesperson for the cause! Your friend, the tattoo artist, sounds wonderful as well. So glad to hear the event was such a HIT and raised an impressive amount of greenbacks for such a worthy cause.


Posts: 117
Joined: Mar 2011

What a heart warming story. Thanks for sharing.



GreeneyedGirl's picture
Posts: 1077
Joined: Sep 2008

~Wow, they really did work their tushes off for the day~ and an amazing amount donated, plus all the people who were supportive, and sharing about how cancer has touched their lives. Good really can come out of some of the hardest situations~ I am so glad you shared this~

HootieGirl's picture
Posts: 85
Joined: Feb 2011

Loved this story!! I have been wanting to get a bc tattoo, but am waiting for the right time. You're incredible for rallying to raise awareness/money for an incredible cause and Such a unique way of doing it. You're a rockstar!

skipper54's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2011

I might have even considered it too. In part I'm just a scardy cat but I guess after all I've been through a tatoo wouldn't be all that bad.

Heatherbelle's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Jun 2010

Thanks ladies!! To answer a question above - they were doing ANY cancer awareness ribbon tattoos, they had charts all around the shop that showed the different colors and what they mean. One lady had one done with like 5 or 6 different colors in it, and it looked beautiful. They had 5 or so different sizes to choose from, and 3 different designs, the standard ribbon design, one that looked like it was blowing in the wind, and one that was kind of curvy. It was pretty awesome for sure! And i LOVE the idea of the hummingbird mastectomy scar tattoo! Funny you mentioned that, because getting my areola tattoos is the last part of my reconstruction, and I'm having Zaq do it instead of having my plastic surgeon's assistant just color it in. That way i can actually have real looking ones. The local newspaper came out & did an interview with me and a couple other ladies who were there. The only thing is they completely got my name wrong. Instead of saying my name is Heather Grontkowski - they called me Kathy Grontkowski. My friends and family are never going to let me live that down ;) If i can find it, I'll share a link to the newspaper and article! Just wanted to share what I had going on last week & what I was a part of for all of us :)

you should be able to copy and paste that link into your browser. if not, you can google the "Herald Palladium" newspaper in St. Joseph, MI. xoxo

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