By CHRIS HARRIS
Turns out that one of the best weapons in the ongoing battle against cancer is a needle.
At least, that was the case Monday at business Bodean’s Tattoos, where the local ink-slingers were practicing their craft in the name of a good cause: raising money to fight cancer.
“Bean (Bullock, one of Bodean’s tattoo artists) contacted me and said they’d like to get involved,” said Brooke Whitis, community representative for the American Cancer Society, about the origins of the event. “It’s always a wonderful way, when somebody reaches out to us.”
From noon to 8 p.m. Monday, Bodean’s proceeds from tattoos were specially designated to go to the American Cancer Society via Relay for Life Pulaski County, to help fund research, treatment, advocacy, and all the other functions of the organization, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
Cancer patients and those touched by the disease were encouraged to come in to the shop and get a tattoo signifying something very special to them, whatever that may be — commonly a sign of hope in what is usually a long and frustrating struggle.
“It’s a wonderful way to ... show what they’re feeling when it comes to cancer,” said Whitis. “Every cancer has a color. So many people associate pink with everything — that’s just for breast cancer — but a lot of people have come in today to get orange for leukemia, gray for brain cancer, (and) they can do that ribbon for them (as a tattoo).”
Bullock said the benefit allows people to get some kind of cancer-related memorial while putting aside any potential hang-ups about vanity and knowing they’re doing it for a good cause.
“So many of our clients come in here, and it’s bittersweet,” she said. “(They might get) a really cute tattoo, but it’s a really sad story behind it.
“It’s our way to give back,” she added. “Everyone has or has had family members with cancer or (something related).”
Tammy Bramlett came all the way from Williamsburg to get a tattoo — her first, which she’d been thinking about for years.
“It’s been 14 years since breast cancer took my grandmother, and I’ve been diligent in working against it ever since,” said Bramlett, who was getting a tribal design mixed with a traditional breast cancer ribbon. “It’s personal for me.”
Bullock noted that by mid-day, over a dozen individuals had already come in to get tattoos as part of the benefit, with many more scheduled throughout the day. The store raised over $1,200 from the fundraiser.
Whitis has enjoyed hearing the stories from those getting tattoos about what their new body art represents, and that she’s a fan of tattoos herself — she even got a very meaningful one herself as part of the benefit.
“I’ve always loved tattoos,” said Whitis. “I find that so many of our survivors get them as a badge of honor. If it’s not the survivor getting it, then it’s the family doing it in remembrance or support of their loved ones.
“It’s a perfect fundraiser for us, and we’re thrilled with Bodeans and all of them here for jumping on board.”