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Our Tattoos: A Tribute to Cancer

by Abril Murillo & Emmanuel TerrellSurvivorsDecember 18, 2022View more posts from Abril Murillo & Emmanuel Terrell

Brought to you by the AYA team at Cook Children’s

By Abril Murillo

I was born in Mexico, but moved to Texas when I was little. Just before starting my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. During chemo, I struggled with not being able to do the things I wanted, but my family and friends were a great support system. I love traveling and going to new places, and I now have my own small business.

Getting my tattoos was important to me because they represented my experience with cancer. The tattoos are a reminder of what I went through and how grateful I am to be alive. They remind me of all the things I have learned, the amazing people I met, and the way everything fell into place; even though the journey was long. These tattoos are a symbol of how strong I am; I am a survivor. Unfortunately, my mom passed away from lymphoma when I was eight. She was my best friend and I love her very much. In a way, I feel like these tattoos also represent my mom and everything she went through; she is my inspiration. I am grateful I have these tattoos because they are a symbol for everything in my life that means so much to me.

By Emmanuel Terrell

My name is Emmanuel, and I am from Texas. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on April 22, 2020. My long journey with cancer has included three different chemos; so far the third one seems to be working. A few of my hobbies consist of hanging out with friends, playing basketball, playing video games, and just enjoying the company of other people and getting back out in the world.

My first tattoo, the one on my left upper arm, was dedicated to my cancer journey and helped me visualize what I had gone through. The image is of a butterfly that has lost its color (my diagnosis) before slowly gaining its full colors back (when I learned I was cancer free on January 13, 2021).

This tattoo is a tribute to what I went through and has helped me cope with the trauma of my situation in an artistic way.

My second tattoo is also tied to my cancer journey. Located on my lower arm is a depiction of me and half an astronaut. It symbolizes that although I don’t know what will happen in life, I still need to attack the unknown. This tattoo also displays my prosthetic leg, and has helped me feel more comfortable with it. I am sometimes ashamed of it, but this is a symbol of who I am and what I can become.

This article was featured in the 2022 Body issue of Elephants and Tea Magazine! Click here to read our magazine issues.


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