RUMFORD, Maine — Jon Nisbet of Rumford has found a way to honor those who have battled cancer, whether they’ve won or lost the fight.
His family has been plagued by the disease. In the past 10 years, he has lost 15 members, including his mother, an aunt, an uncle and a grandmother, he said.
Parlor owner Kris Howes jumped on board and since November the two artists have completed 14 cancer-memorial tattoos.
Wednesday, Nisbet had the opportunity to create his first tribute to a cancer survivor.
Bryan Lucas of Rumford wanted to find a way to honor his father, Francis Lucas, of Barnesville, Ohio, who survived colon cancer.
Bryan Lucas, a retired U.S. Air Force civil engineer, has 13 tattoos, most marking a place he has traveled to with the military.
His father, a Vietnam veteran who also has tattoos, told Lucas not to get any and grounded him for a month when he learned of his son’s first tattoo at the age of 14, he said.
Lucas said his father changed after he was diagnosed with cancer.
“That’s when he started saying life is too short. ‘You got to do this right and make things count,’” Lucas said. “When I told him about the tribute tattoo, you could tell he was choked up about it.”
Lucas’ tattoo included the words “life is too short” and “fight to survive.”
His sister, Lisa, of Woodsfield, Ohio, is fighting cervical cancer.
Some of the cancer tattoos have been emotional for Nisbet to do. He said that when sharing stories in the fight against cancer with clients he has, at times, had to take a break and regain composure.
Nisbet said one of the most difficult tattoos he has done was on his sister.
It’s a silhouette of an angel holding a holly leaf, in honor of his aunt, Colleen Martineau, who died from cancer in December, and their mother, Holly LeCours.
Nisbet’s mother died of cancer almost four years ago. Two photos that were taken of family members had faint images of angels in the clouds after both passed away, Nisbet said.
LeCours motivated her son, encouraging him to turn his craft and artwork into a career, he said.
“She use to stand over me and watch me tattoo,” Nisbet said. “She use to get so close I could feel her breath on my neck.”
Nisbet said he was working on a piece on his leg and his mother was standing over him when he offered her a chance to try out the tattoo gun. He said his mother was surprised how difficult of an art it is.
“She did it for a few minutes, but it didn’t last long,” he joked.
Nisbet said that after his mother was diagnosed with cancer, he and his sister were tested for the hereditary cancer gene. Nisbet tested positive.
“I was reading the information they gave me,” he said. “I learned that someone without the gene had a 2 percent chance of getting cancer, but it increased the odds to 76 percent for those who had it.”
Nisbet said his drive to contribute to the American Cancer Society was to find a cure.
“I wish there was more I could do,” he said. “This is pretty much all I could do, so I’m doing it to the best of my ability.”
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