If you’d like to share the story behind your tattoo, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include: a photo of your tattoo, a short description of why you got it or why you love it, and your name.
This form of blood cancer remains the most common type of cancer in children and teens, occurring in about 1 out of every 3 diagnoses. Though there are several types of leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type among adults.
Every person with leukemia has a unique experience battling the disease, which some choose to capture in the form of tattoos. These tattoos can act as inspiration for strength during difficult moments, to show solidarity with other survivors, or even to honor a loved one. Whatever the reason, we believe these tattoos deserve to be shared with the entire leukemia community. Check them out below:
“I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in February 2017. I spent a lot of time online learning about this cancer and looking for support. I do not need a daily reminder of my struggles, as my body seems to give those to me all on its own. While I am still struggling, I got my tattoo as an inspiration to help me get through those really bad days. It is an abstract hummingbird carrying an orange ribbon.” — Amber
“I have chronic myeloid leukemia. I was diagnosed almost four years ago at 34 years of age. One year ago today, I got my first tattoo when I was able to take a 3-week break from my oral chemotherapy. I got the ribbon for my disease and the butterfly to celebrate my husband’s kidney transplant. Since I got my tattoo I feel a sense of relief and freedom from my disease. With blood cancer there is no scar or outward expression of the battle that we face daily. With my tattoo, I can see my strength, my struggle, and my survival in a way I could not before.” — Hillary
“I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia at the age of 29 when my children were just 5 and 9. I am now 38 and celebrating 9 years since my diagnosis. It has been a struggle, but with the support of loved ones and medications, I am able to live a fairly normal life now. To celebrate my remission three years ago, I got my tattoo as a reminder that I am a survivor. My oldest daughter asked me if she could get a tattoo to match mine when she turned 16. So, we now have matching reminders of my survival. If I ever forget what life means to me, I can look at my children and their love for me, and know that I can survive anything life throws my way.” — ShaNae Harbin
“My leukemia tattoo is on my left forearm. A cross with the date of my diagnosis written in my own handwriting. I love my simple reminder to live each day to the fullest! No one is guaranteed a tomorrow — cancer patients seem to have a deeper understanding of that.” — Jennifer Smith
“I didn’t want the typical cancer ribbon and I wanted something to remind me that I am more than my diagnosis. The quote is from a song I love and relates to [the] Latin saying ‘non angli, sed angeli’ which translates to ‘not angles, but angels.’ It’s tattooed on my left forearm so that I can see it daily.” — Anonymous
“For our son.” — Anonymous
“I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia two weeks after my grandmother ended her journey with Alzheimer’s disease. I had not been physically well for over a year and my grandmother had been telling my mom and me that she knew something was wrong. The flowers [on my tattoo] are forget-me-nots (the flower used to symbolize Alzheimer’s) and, of course, the leukemia ribbon.” — Anonymous
“In January of 2016, my dad developed what we initially thought to be allergies, which turned into a sinus infection. He had been to see his doctor on four separate occasions, but each time was only given antibiotics. In April, I drove my father to an appointment for a second opinion. He was still sick. In fact, even sicker.
As the days continued, my father was sleeping a lot and had begun experiencing severe bouts of body pain. He was constantly visiting the emergency room, and he was developing unsightly bruises all over his body. In May, Dad was admitted to the hospital for pain management. An internist came in to visit him. He took a full family history, asked my dad a ton of questions, and told him that he felt he needed to perform a bone marrow biopsy, as he suspected it was leukemia.
My husband, Ben, was the one who eventually broke the news that my father had been diagnosed with the disease. Over the next three months that my father lived, I felt like I was fighting my own war. It was as if I was supposed to be shooting my gun at the enemy, but the enemy was too forceful. I wanted so badly to take away my father’s cancer.
My dad passed away on the morning of August 24, 2016. I recall walking into his house to see him lying there in his hospice bed. I climbed up to lay beside him, kissed his cheek, grabbed hold of his hand, and sobbed.
My father was supposed to be at my first Light the Night Walk that October. I can tell you he was there in spirit. He had been so proud of the work I was doing for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and asked me a couple of days before he died if I would continue helping other blood cancer patients. I promised that I would and I am still with the LLS today.” — Kelly Caufield