A primary motivation for getting a tattoo usually has to do with its personal meaning, such as marking a significant experience or struggle.
Last year, Elizabeth “Beth” Coombs got a tattoo that had two meanings.
Coombs was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in 2020. Her team of City of Hope experts quickly developed a personalized treatment plan for her.
According to City of Hope officials, Coombs had preoperative chemotherapy. Surgeons then successfully removed six tumors. A course of “cleanup” chemo helped ensure any remaining cancer cells in her body were eliminated.
Her medical oncologist, Misagh Karimi, M.D., director of clinical operations at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island and a colon cancer specialist at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, delivered the good news in January 2022: There was no detectable evidence of cancer in her body.
“My emotions were indescribable,” Coombs said. “The joy of no more chemo or anything else was overwhelming. It was a sense of relief, but at the same time a sense of shock. Words don’t even have the power to explain the feelings I had. They were so vast.”
Coombs said she now dedicates at least one day a month to doing something for herself and enjoying life with friends and family.
One of those outings was attending a taping of “The Late, Late Show with James Corden” in Los Angeles with a friend. After the taping, they decided to get tattoos and found a nearby tattoo shop.
Combs already had a tattoo in mind: the word “hope,” which she had tattooed on the inside of her forearm in graceful cursive. The “e” forms the shape of a cancer ribbon, with a heart at the bottom, and the blue ink represents colon cancer awareness.
Coombs said having a visible reminder of her physical and emotional healing was well worth any fleeting discomfort.
Her new tattoo serves as a reminder of her gratitude, and a mantra as she moves forward, Coombs said.
Also, said Combs, “I got the tattoo because City of Hope saved my life.”
For more information, visit https://www.cityofhope.org/oc.