One of the beautiful things about family (by blood or choice) is that when something happens to one family member, everyone steps up.
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Jasper O’Briant of Jal, New Mexico was only 14 when his left arm just “stopped working” one day at baseball practice. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that mostly affects children and teenagers. Now 16, Jasper has been receiving chemotherapy treatments for the past two years.
As part of his treatment, the teenager had a major surgery that left a long, jagged scar down the length of his left arm. His journey hasn’t been easy, but his family’s stalwart religious convictions have carried him through the turbulent times.
Jasper’s father, Jody O’Brient, is a pastor at the Baptist church in their town. His oldest brother, Nathan, is a college student in nearby Lubbock, Texas. The pair talked about getting tattoos to match Jasper’s scar for a while, but they recently decided to go through with it. No one in their family has any tattoos at all, so it was a big decision, but they were adamant about showing solidarity with Jasper.
“I was fully on board when we had discussed it,” said Nathan. “It was never a second doubt in my mind as to what was going to happen there. It was something I wanted to do immediately for him.”
The family selected tattoo artist Mike Diaz of Sunken City Ink in Lubbock, Texas to copy Jasper’s scar. Mike has experience working with cancer patients and understands the therapeutic benefits of tattoo art.
“When you have clients that have had mastectomies because of cancer situations, and I’m able to restore that for them…” he said emotionally. “Tattoos can heal as well as help bring comfort in certain situations.”
Jasper says he was incredibly moved by the gesture, especially because it was a choice his father and brother made in his honor.
“I didn’t get to choose to have [surgery] done to me,” he said. “It was, to be quite frank, it was that or death. So I didn’t get to choose and the fact that they chose to put something permanent on their body was very meaningful.”
Not only does the new ink signify solidarity with Jasper’s cancer journey, the tattoos will also inspire conversations about osteosarcoma. Jody and Nathan say they hope their tattoos will raise awareness and inspire more donations for cancer research.
“When you have such a striking tattoo such as this, people are going to ask, ‘Well, what’s that for? Why do you have that?’ So it’s just small little bits and pieces [I’m] able to share with people over time and this is just part of spreading that awareness,” Nathan explained.
This is such a beautiful and permanent way to show Jasper that he is not going through cancer alone! We love the symbolism, and we join the O’Brient family in hoping for a cure for all cancers.
Share this story to send your best wishes to Jasper as he continues to battle osteosarcoma.
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