A FAMILY is looking forward to a fresh start in the new year thanks to the generosity of a Wigan tattoo artist.
Michelle Ross was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago but after being given the all-clear, she is keen to cover the scars on her stomach and breasts which act as a constant reminder of the trauma she has been through.
So Michelle along with husband Martin, both 30, are planning an inking a that will cover the scars and mark the beginning of a new phase in her life.
Chris Burwin, from The Alchemy in Wigan, has offered to help the couple, who have an eight-year-old son Jayden and daughter Ava, six.
She said: “I found a lump before we went on holiday and then when I was on holiday it just started getting bigger and bigger.
“We were away for two weeks and in that space of time it had just grown so I went to the doctors and they did all the tests.
I still picture what my body looked like before. When I look at the scars, they are a constant reminderMichelle Ross
“I had a biopsy and found out I had breast cancer. I was 25 when I was diagnosed, in 2011.”
Since then Michelle has had chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a mastectomy where they had to remove everything because the cancer was grade three, and reconstructive surgery.
Michelle continued: “That was over a good four years. I had my breast removed, then I had the reconstruction which I couldn’t have until after all my treatment had finished, which was about 18 months.
“They took my stomach fat so that’s where the scars have come from.
“To me, it has been going on for about four five years and this is the ending now. This is what I have always wanted done since I was given the scars to start with, I wanted them covered and this is the final bit now. I have done that now I want to move on to the next bit of my life now.
“I still picture what my body looked like before. When I look at the scars, they are a constant reminder.
“That’s the thing that it has taken away from me. It goes straight across my stomach and I have got a scar straight across my boobs as well.
“I am constantly seeing scars, so to me if that was covered up I think maybe a bit more confidence would come back.
“I am not ashamed to show my body but the people who don’t know, like if we were on holiday, that’s when I am more conscious because they don’t know I have had breast cancer.
“So I am hiding a little but I think this will give me more confidence. It is going to be quite a big area so I am just putting my trust in him.”
Michelle and Martin also want to raise awareness of the reality of being diagnosed with breast cancer and the treatment that goes with it in the hope of encouraging other women to check their breasts for lumps.
Michelle said: “We hadn’t really heard of anyone getting breast cancer at such a young age, so I think I always had it in my head that everything I did I wanted to raise awareness with it as well.
“When I was diagnosed I was straight on the internet, you want somebody else to talk to but it was hard to find people. The stuff I have put on Facebook, so many people have said it has helped them to see what I am going through. I put the picture on of my scars. A lot of people are ashamed of it so that’s why we want to publicise it as well to help people wherever we can.
“I am quite honest with everything, I always say this is the reality of breast cancer. A lot of people sugarcoat it and hide all that bit but I’d rather say this is the reality of it, this is what my body looks like and this is what I want to get fixed.
“You go into auto pilot thinking I have just got to get it done. It is when I stopped that I realised I had had all that treatment and I had done all that and it is only now we are just about at the end of it.
“I had so much time because I had been working full time before and had two kids but all that was taken away from me. So I thought what can I do? So I started raising money.
“We didn’t know anything about cancer before so you just think the worst. Again that is why we are raising awareness about it, that it is not the end, you can get treatment.
“It was fast as I got diagnosed within a couple of weeks, I was having surgery and within the month I was having chemotherapy.”
Chris has offered his time to the couple for free but they want to raise some money for him to say thank you.
Martin said: “It is just at the point now where we have done all the stuff that nobody wants to do and the long-term plan is now just minor, not so much operations, but alterations.
“Michelle put a picture of her body now on Facebook to try to raise a awareness and it reached nearly 35,000 people.
“Because Michelle is quite young we did search for some information and we couldn’t find anything at all because it is predominantly older women.
“We felt a bit like we had nowhere to go and no one to speak to. Michelle has a couple of tattoos already and the chap we have had a couple of tattoos off in the past.
“Chris asked if he could cover it for Michelle. He came forward and has given up his time so we have set up a crowdfunding page just because we can’t expect him to give up his time, especially at this time of year.
“It is going to take probably 20 hours for a tattoo that size – that is a lot of money at £50 an hour.
“We wanted someone we could trust who has experience of covering scars because it takes a bit more care and a bit more cleverness with regards to position.”
To help the couple raise money, contact them through Michelle’s Facebook page.