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Fading 'Labels'

This week, I went for laser tattoo removal and it got me reflecting.

Tattoos are intriguing. They’re a time stamp reflection of where we were at at one point in our lives.

Some tattoos are full of meaning and symbolism.

Some tattoos were chosen because they were aesthetically pleasing.

Either way, tattoos have a story.

I had a few tattoos that were not feeling aligned with me anymore.

  1. A star tattoo I have behind my right ear.

  2. An arrow on my left wrist.

  3. A tattoo that says “stronger” on my left ribs.

I got my star tattoo in a bright green like the lush landscape of Australia when I was on a six-week backpacking trip and was mesmerized by the magnificent Australian skies. This tattoo has faded so much that it is now a light blue. I also can’t see the dang thing and always forget it’s there, so it’s time to let it go.

My wrist arrow is a tattoo that I never liked. I got when I was at my first BodyTalk conference in Florida to celebrate following my arrow and to remind me to continue to. It was a rushed decision and it didn't turn out well. I still like the symbolism, but I don’t like the actual tattoo, so it’s time to release it.

The main tattoo that I had an issue with was my “stronger” tattoo that I got on my ribs with an ovarian cancer ribbon within the year after having surgery and chemotherapy. I got it as a reminder to myself that I can do hard things and not only make it through to the other side, but that I can come out the other side stronger. This tattoo still holds a lot of meaning and energy, but I've shifted in how I feel about the whole experience. I've changed so much as a person. My response to the world and my experiences has softened so sooo much compared to the 22-year-old me that got the tattoo way back when.

And would you even believe this…?

The tattoo was written in a cursive black font, then I drew a cancer ribbon that I got in a teal colour beside.

Well, the letters have all run together and you can’t even read what the dang word says anymore!

I'm not even kidding! LOOK:

 The laser technician yesterday said after looking at it, "What does it even say? Stranger?" HAHAHAHA

"RIGHT?!" was how I responded, laughing. Like come on!! That's so funny!

And this isn’t new—it’s been illegible for almost a decade!!

So what is my “stronger” tattoo showing me?

Well let me start by explaining why I laughed so much when the laser tech asked if it said STRANGER... because I know it is reflecting that the version of me that needed ovarian cancer as a wake up call DOES FEEL LIKE A COMPLETE STRANGER to me!

And it is actually pretty hilarious and ironic that my body and my tattoo have shifted so much as a reflection of me that it looks like my stronger tattoo says stranger! If you can't laugh about that irony, then get the heck out of here! LOL

Next, it’s telling me I no longer identify with needing to be or act or pretend to be “stronger” from my cancer experience. Nope. I don't need to respond like that anymore. It's not me.

Lastly, it’s also showing me that I don’t even align or identify with the ‘cancer’ label anymore. I haven’t for quite a few years now, so of course my tattoo is going to reflect that.

Sometimes when I hear about cancer stories or cancer fundraisers or survivors, it doesn’t even cross my mind that some people might think of me when they hear about cancer. I’m not even kidding—most of the time I forget completely. Cancer doesn’t trigger me. Cancer doesn’t scare me.

This could have a lot to do with the fact that I have done SO MUCH healing, unpacking, and inner work around my experience with cancer. In doing so, I have released the huge societal belief that I was a victim to cancer. Instead, I truly believe that I needed a massive wake up call and realignment in my life, and cancer was the opportunity. I believe that all of our symptoms and conditions are an opportunity to grow and change and get aligned with our hearts and souls.

There are some pretty potent messages within my tattoo right there even if I did nothing else.

However, I'd been thinking about covering up my stronger tattoo with something else for a while now and every tattoo artist I showed said that it wouldn’t be possible to cover it because it was too dark and too thick.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t able to just “cover up” my cancer tattoo….

Of course I couldn't! Nope, instead I needed to remove it.

The description of the healing process that the laser technician shared next blew my mind!

He said that the amount of laser removal sessions depends on the person’s lymphatic system. He said that the laser stimulates the body to send macrophages to the tattoo area. Macrophages are a type of white blood cell that surrounds and kills microorganisms, removes dead cells, and stimulates other immune cells. The macrophages break up the ink from the skin tissue, break it down, and the lymphatic system clears the ink from the body and the skin heals.

The laser actually stimulates a cleansing and healing response from the body to “break down” the tattoo (ahem, and the symbolism of what we are ready to release).

Like how dang powerful is that symbolism!?

I asked him if he noticed any patterns with how people release their tattoos with their lymphatic system response.

He shared that he’s seen super healthy marathon runners have sluggish lymphatic systems and very seemingly unhealthy people who have incredible lymphatic system responses. He stated that it doesn’t make any sense to him.

I shared that my notice with lymphatic responses is that the more people are willing and able to let go of their attachments, the better their lymphatic systems will mirror that letting go response. People who hold on to every experience and emotion typically have a sluggish lymphatic response because they have a habit or attachment to holding on, so their bodies are unable to release that which they will not release their grip on.

Isn’t that fascinating?

He shared that lymphatic system support can help the body clear the ink more effectively, so I’ll be testing out that theory! (stay tuned!)

I was ready to begin the process of officially letting go of the story of “stronger” that has lived on the left side of my rib cage—yes, the ribs represent protection, and this side specifically protects my heart and left lung, so no wonder that’s the location I subconsciously chose.

I feel like instead of having to be ‘stronger’ which feels very much like a fight or flight, defensive, contracted state and response, I’m learning to be softer, more open, more expressive, more vulnerable, more feminine. It’s absolutely been a journey, and one that I am still learning and leaning into everyday.

No wonder my tattoo showed me that I don’t need to wear that label anymore!

Now just let me share that the ribs are a terribly painful place to get a tattoo (or tattoo removal).

It's not lost on me that I self-inflicted a lot of pain to get this tattoo put on my ribs. And it's also not lost on me that I am ready to release and alchemize the pain that remains as I fully release this tattoo.

Do you have any tattoos that have faded or changed?

What did they mean to you when you got them?

How do they resonate with you now?

If you'd like to learn more about my wake-up call experience with cancer, you can grab your copy of My Cosmic Hammer on at

If you'd like to learn about how I break down the symbolism of these messages from the body, join me for a MindScape seminar, or book a BodyTalk session.

Thank you for being here.



About the Author:​


Kristin Pierce loves chai lattes, inspirational quotes, writing in coffee shops, and questioning beliefs. She is an award-winning author and a self-awareness educator whose mission is to empower others to deconstruct the limiting beliefs that are keeping them small and stuck in order to rise to their potential, come alive, and impact the world. Kristin is the Founder of Inner Compass Academy and Inner Compass Books. She is a MindScape Instructor, Advanced BodyTalk Practitioner, Registered Massage Therapist, & Children's Book Author.


Sign up for her Breaking the Mold FREE Webinar and her Inspire Newsletter.

Find her on Facebook & Instagram @InnerCompassAcademy and @InnerCompassBooks.


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