santa cruz tattoo

Patrick Blackstorm - Mission Street Tattoo - Santa Cruz, CA.

This is the start of what will likely be a larger tribute to personal strength and will. I’m Spencer, I’m a 23-year-old queer and transgender male, and last year I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive but highly treatable cancer of the lymphatic system. From prediagnosis to diagnosis and all the way through chemotherapy, I lost parts of myself I had never recognized. More than my hair and my eyelashes, I felt like I lost half my consciousness- I was alive but I dragged myself through every day. I was so dissociative and depressed that I couldn’t grasp my identity and relate to myself, my friends, or my family in the same ways. I worked 15-25 hours a week throughout treatment and I only called out sick twice. About ¾ into my 6 month treatment span, I found out that there was no longer evidence of cancer in my body- that I was going to be alright. I finished out chemo on February 17th and I’ve been recovering ever since.

It takes several months for your outward appearance to recover but it can take years for the emotional distress to subside- something I still face every day, every check up, every sneeze or upset stomach. I chose this piece because of its simplicity and what it has come to symbolize to me; that some things in and of themselves are stronger and more resilient than others. Just as a fish will be a fish and a bear will be a bear, tumors are tumors and I am resilient, determined, tough, and patient. 

I will be adding to the flowers but they’re just a reminder of how nature and general beauty lifted me from my darkest days and helped me continue.

Thank you for reading and take care <3