I am so beyond, beyond honored to share February's gratitude winner with you. Projects like these remind me of just how fortunate I am to do the work I do. Back in January I got an email from Stephanie, a 25 year-old cancer survivor who is getting her PharmD. We collaborated to create the design for her tattoo, pictured above.

Stephanie's story embodies all that I hope to celebrate with Project Gratitude and the gratitude giveaways. How lucky we are to be alive. And to have inspiring role models like Stephanie who face adversity with such strength and grace.  Thank you, Stephanie, for the opportunity to work with you, and for sharing these heartfelt words.

Four years ago, at the age of 21, I found out I had Extraskeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma, an extremely rare form of cancer which happened to be attached to a spinal nerve.  I had just completed a difficult semester of pharmacy school, and a tumor removal surgery revealed cancerous tissue.  The next year and a half would be filled with chemotherapy and radiation.  To put things into perspective, every other treatment consisted of six days in a hospital with a continuous infusion of chemotherapy flowing into my body.

I have numerous scars on my body: nape of my neck (from the tumor removal), left upper chest area (port site to administer chemotherapy) and under my left arm (previous collapsed lung).  I’ve had an incredible history of medical issues, including an additional spontaneous pneumothorax with pleural effusion, basically fluid in my lung cavity.  Yet, after all of it, I tend to feel like it was fortunate these things happened to me because someone else may not be able to endure the pain.

I believe in la vie en rose, the French equivalent of “looking at life through rose-colored glasses.”  There’s always a good side to events in one’s life, whether it be for your own good or someone else’s.  The events that have happened in my life may not be ideal, but I know I am unique and stronger because of them.  This tattoo means just that for me.  I wanted to remind myself to maintain my innate positive outlook, and I wanted to put my own mark on my body.  I also secretly insist I was meant to be Parisian, but that’s another story.  La vie en rose reminds me that these marks are beautiful, they are unique.  Some people wish they had interesting scars and marks on their body.. And, at the age of 26, I do - some by chance and one by choice.

Stephanie says she hopes hopes to share health and joy with others through pharmacy and event planning.

Special thanks to tattoo artist Kim Durham, and photographer Denny Kim. Your work is stunning.

As a reminder: I give away --for FREE!-- an expression of gratitude (a letter, a tattoo, a quote, etc.) every month. Please contact me if you have someone in your life who deserves thanks and recognition. I'm without a winner for March - May and would love to hear from you.  

And you can read more about tattoos here.