Brave North Walsham mum to carry out first tattoo as part of Norwich charity event

Sarah Harmer with the team from Love / Hate tattoos at Catton Grove. From left: Michelle Mayhew, Ste

Sarah Harmer with the team from Love / Hate tattoos at Catton Grove. From left: Michelle Mayhew, Steven Gigli, Sophie Butcher and Shane Grady. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

To be told your cancer has returned is a devastating shock for anyone but a courageous mother-of-two, from North Walsham, is fighting back against the disease by 'getting inked' for charity.

Forty-year-old Sarah Harmer has joined forces with Love Hate Tattoos studio at Woodgrove Parade, off Catton Grove, Norwich, to help support a cancer ribbon tattoo day this weekend to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

A civil servant, Mrs Harmer was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 following a routine check-up with her younger sister, who had herself already found a lump.

They were both discovered to carry the hereditary breast cancer type two susceptibility protein gene (BRCA2) – a protein found inside cells – and both went on to have double mastectomies the same year.

Mrs Harmer also underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and in April 2011 began reconstructive breast surgery. But earlier this year she received the devastating news that her cancer had returned and spread to her sternum bone and liver.


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'It was a shock,' she said. 'You just sit there and take the news. But I don't mope about it. You have the odd tears now and again as you think about it but you have to deal with it.

'I do have down times but I try to keep on top of things, keep busy and keep positive.

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'I love supporting other people who are in the same situation as me and I find talking to people does help.'

Owners of Love Hate Tattoos, husband and wife team Dean and Michelle Mayhew, opened the studio two years ago in memory of Mrs Mayhew's younger brother Dan Edmonds.

Mr Edmonds died in October four years after receiving a fatal blow to the head during a kick-boxing match and this Sunday – the day of the fundraiser – he would have celebrated his 30th birthday.

Mrs Mayhew, 32, said: 'It's going to be a really emotional day – the anniversary of my brother's death and his birthday are two of the hardest days of the year for me so it's great we are doing something so positive on that day.'

The idea for the fundraiser grew from the team's passion to help battle cancer and every penny made on the day will go towards Cancer Research UK, with staff volunteering their own time and supplies to the cause.

Mrs Mayhew added: 'October is cancer awareness month and all members of staff, including myself, have lost friends and family from cancer – it is something that is close to everyone who works here.

'It is massively important for us to do something like this as it's something we've been talking about for so, so long. It's the first time we've done a charity event but it will not be the last.'

The team have so far received more than £300 in donations with further pledges exceeding £140. And Martin Williams, a tattooist at the studio, has said he would allow Mrs Harmer, friend and former work colleague, to tattoo a pink cancer ribbon on him – her first ever attempt at the art form.

The family-friendly event will include face painting, children's 'tattooing', and a tombola.

There will also be a raffle with donated prizes including a necklace worth £145, trainers, a cookbook from Jamie's Italian Norwich restaurant and meal vouchers for Fatso's and Nando's.

The studio will be open this Sunday from 10am to 5pm and will run a walk-in service for cancer ribbon tattoos only, starting from £10.

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