Family honors New Mexico teen’s battle with cancer through matching scar tattoos

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.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 11:11 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - 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. The family from Jal, New Mexico, traveled here to Lubbock last week to make their bond permanent at Sunken City Ink.

Jasper, 16, loves building Legos, solving Rubik’s cubes, and playing baseball. At practice one day his arm gave out, leading his family to believe he had torn his bicep. Several appointments later, doctors diagnosed Jasper with osteosarcoma, the most common cancer that starts in the bones.

He’s now in his third round of chemotherapy since early 2020. The large scar on his upper left arm tells the story of a surgery to remove bone and muscle.

“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 really cool and it really 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.

While they live in Jal, they came to Sunken City Ink in Lubbock to get the tattoos after seeing the work artist Mike Diaz had done 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 comes around you. People just come around you and they love on you way more than you ever expect. And it’s been a blessing disguised as a curse,” he said.

He says their challenge is far too common for other 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. And so, we would love for more money to be 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.