EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire archives

October 16, 2006

Permanently pink, permanently strong

DERRY - They say it takes a strong man to wear pink. But Mark and Hollie Hesse think it takes an even stronger woman.

The owners of Scorpion Tattooing in Derry are offering free pink ribbon tattoos to breast cancer survivors on Sunday.

Mark Hesse, a tattoo artist who has won several national awards for his work, one of which was for a rendering of the Dalai Lama, decided to hold the event in honor his mother, who died in 1968, at age 40, of breast cancer. Mark Hesse was just 15.

"Back then, they didn't really have much (treatment)," he said. "Now, it's nice to be able to do something for (survivors)."

And since the husband-and-wife team came up with the idea, Hollie Hesse has found opportunities to talk about breast cancer in the most mundane places. During a trip to the supermarket, she struck up a conversation about the event with a woman holding a bake sale to benefit breast cancer.

That was a great idea, Hollie Hesse said the woman told her, and then the woman pulled back the collar of her shirt to reveal a pink ribbon tattoo on her shoulder.

A few weeks ago, she told her 12-year-old daughter Jessica's teacher, whom she knew to be a breast cancer survivor, about the event. The teacher, Hollie Hesse said, told her she'd be the first one in line, but had one question Hollie Hesse found unbelievable.

"You know what she asked?" Hollie Hesse said. "'Does it hurt?'"

That's something that Mark Hesse laughed at as well.

"It's like a scratch," he said.

This year, nearly 212,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and nearly 41,000 will die from it, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. A small number of men, about 1,760, will be diagnosed with the disease and 460 will die from it.

The Hesses hope that painting survivors permanently pink - which they see as a symbol of hope - will raise awareness of the deadly disease.

"Come in, get your tattoo, be happy," Hollie Hesse said. "You're a survivor."

If you go

What: Free pink ribbon tattoos for breast cancer survivors

Where: Scorpion Tattooing, 127 Rockingham Rd., Route 28, Hillside Plaza

When: Sunday, Oct. 22, from noon to 7 p.m.

Information: www.scorpiontattooing.com

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