Joanne wears her milestone marker with pride

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Joanne Burch… the tattoo marked a major point following her cancer diagnosis, where she felt terrific wearing the clothes she wanted to again. Photo by ANDREW CAMPBELL

IF tattoos are the modern marker of milestones then Joanne Burch, 51, hopes the magnificent work of body art across her chest is a one-off.

The ink creation, encompassing meaningful flowers, lace and jewels, was done nine years after a double mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis at age 42.

The tattoo marked a major point following her cancer diagnosis, where she felt terrific wearing the clothes she wanted to again.

With no family history of breast cancer and a commitment to living a healthy life, the mother of two was both devastated by the diagnosis and fearful of looking different following the treatment.

“I hated my hair falling out and no longer felt good wearing the clothes I would normally wear,” says Joanne.

But a chance viewing of a similar tattoo led Joanne to travel to tattoo artist, Cindy May in Albury-Wodonga where she spent more than eight hours having her personal design permanently etched into her skin to hide her scars and boost her self-esteem.

Joanne has joined the growing number of Australians symbolising life markers from christenings to marriages with a tattoo, according to social demographer Mark McCrindle.

“In a generation, tattoos have been transformed from a sign of rebellion and nonconformity to symbols of personal meaning and life-change,” he says.

Later additions to Joanne’s tattoo were pictures of her mum’s favourite flower, the Phalaenopsis orchid, as Joanne’s way of thanking her for support during the difficult cancer journey, which included six rounds of chemotherapy.

Joanne will be further honouring her mum when she walks with her own daughter at the 2018 Mother’s Day Classic fun run/walk on Sunday, May 13.

“I’m expecting it to be an emotional day but if it helps to prevent more women going through what I did with my diagnosis, then it will be worth it,” says Joanne.

Breast cancer survivor Joanne Burch. Photo by ANDREW CAMPBELL

As the major fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Mother’s Day Classic hopes its contribution to breast cancer research will exceed $40 million following this year’s event which is held in about 100 locations around Australia.

“The Mother’s Day Classic is no average fun run/walk. It is a powerful day for families and friends to support breast cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to the disease,” says the CEO of the Mother’s Day Classic Foundation, Sharon Morris.

She says the focus is not about breaking speed records but on participation, whether you walk, run or volunteer.

Many people have fun dressing up: expect to see everything from pink gorillas to teams in tutus and tattoos a plenty.

To register to walk, run or volunteer go to

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