Family Honors New Mexico Teen’s Battle with Cancer Through Matching Scar Tattoos

While scars signify hurt and pain, they also demonstrate growth and healing — all are part of a journey the O’Briant family never wants to forget. Jasper O’Briant’s father and oldest brother honored his battle with bone cancer by getting a tattoo to match the large scar on his arm. Sunken City Ink made their bond stronger by welcoming the family from Jal (New Mexico) last week.

Jasper, 16, loves building Legos, solving Rubik’s cubes, and playing baseball. One day, his arm gave way during practice. His family believed he had broken his bicep. Jasper was diagnosed with osteosarcoma after several appointments. This is the most common form of cancer that begins in the bones.

He’s now in his third round of chemotherapy since early 2020. The large scar that he has left on his upper left arm is evidence of a procedure to remove bone and muscles.

“Walking through that at the beginning, you just see the pain, you see the difficulty, the healing, you see all of that. And you don’t want to forget,” Jasper’s father Jody O’Briant said. “I think as people, we tend to forget when life is simple for a while, we forget…we want to memorialize this. We want to remember it and we don’t want Jasper to walk through it by himself.”

Especially after Jasper’s journey was more isolated by the pandemic, his oldest brother Nathan wanted him to know he didn’t have to go through his journey alone. Years after the idea was born, their efforts materialized into matching tattoos of Jasper’s scar.

“Just showing that we love him and that this is how we’re with you no matter what,” he said.

“When my dad approached me first, I thought it was cool and it meant a lot to me that they wanted to do something permanent to their body that they would never be able to remove. I didn’t get to choose and the fact that they chose to do it made it very special,” Jasper said.

They live in Jal but they visited Sunken City Tattoo in Lubbock after seeing the great work Mike Diaz did for other families.

“You have clients that have had mastectomies because of cancer situations and I’m able to restore that for them. I’m able to help cover up scars for people. I’m able to help people in situations to where tattoos can heal as well as help bring comfort in certain situations,” Diaz said.

Jody says their faith in Christ is the only way they’ve made it through the past several years.

“You keep studying, you keep learning, you keep growing, you keep asking God, and then your church comes around you. Your town will come to you. People are drawn to you and will show you love more than you can ever imagine. And it’s been a blessing disguised as a curse,” he said.

Jasper says that their problem is too common for teenagers like Jasper.

“Osteosarcoma for teenagers, for pediatric osteosarcoma, is a very real disease that is very intense, very difficult, and not very well publicized and not much money raised for it either. We would like to see more money raised for research. We’d love for more money to be put towards the needs of families and children that are walking through this,” Jody said.

You can help support the O’Briant family as Jasper continues his third round of chemotherapy here.

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