Bedford tattoo artist honours strength of breast cancer survivors in IWD t-shirt design

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Keely Freeman (@pookyspokes) in her design for Bad Monday

A Bedford tattoo artist who has recently overcome breast cancer has designed a t-shirt for International Women’s Day (IWD) to raise funds for charity.

Keely Freeman, a freelance tattoo artist was approached by clothing company, Bad Monday, to create the design.

“They had the idea to get a female tattoo artist involved in the IWD T-shirt design and apparently thought of me first,” explained Keely.

“After speaking to them about the design I suggested I tie in breast cancer awareness, which is something that just comes naturally to me now.

“I’m not afraid to talk about boobs and how important it is for us to check them. More and more young women are being diagnosed and unfortunately we’re not routinely checked until we’re much older.”

Keely was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago and since then has undergone a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

“It’s down to us to check ourselves for early detection,” said Keely. “I found mine early and I’m thankful I only lost a boob and nothing else.”

Bad Monday is a clothing brand that that focuses on traditional tattoo styles so Keely felt it was important for her design to appeal to the tattoo scene, while also conveying a strong message.

You can buy the t-shirt here.

The t-shirt is on sale for a week from today (8 March) and costs £20. £10 of each sale goes to the charity, Breast Cancer Now.

“For the design I wanted to incorporate boob self examination and my tattoo style. I draw a lot of hands in my art, always with black nails and tattoos. I wanted the hands to almost be reaching out towards your boobs when you’re wearing it.

“The overall design is based on the Strength tarot card which usually depicts a woman and a lion. Hence why one of the hands has a lion tattoo.

“The meaning of this card resonates with me so much now. The strength of a woman fighting off something so fierce. But yet she can remain strong.”

Keely says that the Instagram community has kept her going through her treatment. “I’ve made so many strong connections on Instagram to other women who have or still are going through breast cancer treatment,” she said.

“I don’t know how I would have managed without them. There’s so many emotions you go through during treatment and only women that have been through it can truly understand how your feeling. It’s like a sisterhood.

“I’m so proud to say that through my Instagram page and art I’ve got more people talking about Breast cancer. I get messages from women telling me that they now do their monthly self examinations.”

You can follow Keely’s breast cancer journey on Instagram at @pookys_page and her tattoo business at @pookypokes.

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