For breast cancer survivor Joanne Jackson her body art is a symbol of strength.

Joanne, 43, has no fewer than 17 tattoos each depicting a chapter in her life.

In June 2011 mum-of-two Joanne was diagnosed with breast cancer and later underwent a mastectomy.

But rather than let it affect her confidence and self-esteem, Joanne – in her words – “kicked cancer in the ass.”

Breast reconstruction followed and, barring “a few tweaks”, the plastic surgery is now complete.

Joanne had her first tattoo – a small bird on her thigh – aged 21 but now, to erase her cancer ordeal, she has turned her body into a canvas.

Joanne, of Thornhill, Dewsbury, said: “It’s a statement of intent and a show of strength for what I’ve been through.

“I don’t drink and I don’t smoke but ink is my thing. I am a collector of fine art which just happens to be on my body and not on my walls.”

Joanne, who is married to Andrew, 47, and has two sons Evan, seven, and Connah, 22, has a ‘full sleeve’ on her left arm depicting strong women, Geisha girls and Samurai warriors.

 

The sleeve, created by tattoo artist Matt Evans, of Slawit Ink in Slaithwaite, took 20 hours and five sessions to complete.

A stunning and brightly coloured peacock, the work of Kim Walsh, of Ink Station in Heckmondwike, sweeps majestically around her body.

It has taken 14 hours so far and will be finished in the next couple of weeks.

Surgeons took fat from her stomach for the breast reconstruction leaving scarring from hip to hip. Those scars are now hidden beneath the blue tail feathers of the peacock.

“It’s a stunning piece,” said Joanne. “It marks an end to what I have been through.”

Joanne’s other tattoos include a cancer ribbon on her back and a breast-feeding mother with four lilies to signify the four miscarriages she suffered.

She also has famous quotations from Eleanor Roosevelt, outspoken First Lady of the United States and wife to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on her left thigh.

One of the quotes reads: “You gained strength and courage by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

“You are able to say to yourself I have lived through this horror and I can the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

In 2012 Joanne commissioned a photographer to take pictures of her posing topless after her mastectomy.

She wanted to prove that women could still be sexy and confident. She posted the pictures on Facebook and was furious when the social network removed them and threatened to close her account.

Joanne admits she is running out of bare skin but a couple more tattoos are planned for her thighs and “something for my ribs” and that’ll be about it.

She added: “I know tattoos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but they have come a long way from the days when they were associated with yobs and thugs.

“It’s such an artform and there are some amazing tattoo artists out there and I have found two of them.

“This is what I do and I am growing old disgracefully!”