21 Small Cancer Memorial Tattoo Ideas and Sayings


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Whether you lost someone to cancer or you’ve experienced cancer yourself, a cancer memorial tattoo is a powerful way to raise awareness. If you’re wondering what to do in memory of someone, creating body art around this cause is a touching tribute and a way to keep their memory close. 

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Because many people don’t know where to begin, especially if this is their first tattoo, we’ve compiled some common cancer memorial tattoo ideas. These are small cancer memorial tattoos that are easy to dedicate to someone special, yourself, or the cause itself. 

Cancer can be a devastating diagnosis, but it doesn’t mean the end of the fight. A cancer memorial tattoo makes a great gift for cancer patients and also a heartwarming memorial. No matter how you spread awareness, make sure it’s meaningful for you. 

Post-loss tip: If you'd like some guidance through the complex tasks you may be facing after losing a loved one to cancer, our post-loss checklist can help. 

Cancer Memorial Tattoo Ideas for Mom or Dad

When a parent has cancer, it’s hard to help them through this. Suddenly the child becomes the caretaker, and this burden is heavy to carry. If you’ve lost a mom or dad to cancer, here are some touching cancer memorial tattoo ideas to keep their memory close. 

» MORE: Need help with funeral costs? Create a free online memorial to gather donations.

1. Cancer ribbon

The first idea is also the most common. The classic ribbon design is a well-known way to draw attention to a cause, whether it’s cancer or another illness.

This cancer ribbon makes a great memorial tattoo, and some colors represent different types of cancer. 

2. Angel wings

If your loved one is no longer around, they’re still always watching over you. Honor your new guardian angel with a gorgeous angel wings tattoo. 

3. Dates

Sometimes important dates are more than just a number on the calendar. Memorialize your mom or dad’s birthday, anniversary, or another special day with a tattoo featuring these dates. This way, you’ll always feel them close.

4. Feather

Another common memorial tattoo is to use a feather design. Feathers are seen as a sign of a guardian angel in Christianity.

They’re also commonly referred to as a good luck charm. Bring yourself new luck as you honor your loved one with a feather tattoo. 

5. Flower

Flowers are as strong as they are beautiful. While cancer might have extinguished your parent’s life, it can’t crush your mom or dad’s beauty and spirit. This is something that lives on even after death. 

6. Heartline

Another common tattoo idea that’s used if someone passes away from cancer is a heartline or a lifeline.

This resembles the beating heart that you might see on a heart monitor or computer screen. It reminds you that life is always worth living, even when times get tough. 

7. Heart

A simple cancer memorial tattoo idea is to simply use a heart. This classic is always in style, and it’s a discreet way to honor your love for your parents without drawing too much attention. Color the heart in the same color as your parent’s cancer awareness ribbon for extra meaning. 

Cancer Memorial Tattoo Ideas to Remember Your Experience With Cancer

If you’ve survived cancer, congratulations. This is one of life’s biggest obstacles, and you’re living proof that you’re stronger than you think. Though others aren’t as lucky, honor your experience with a memorial tattoo to your own strength.

8. Survivor

If you’re a cancer survivor, honor this experience with a tattoo that reads ‘survivor.’

Whether this is paired with a memorial ribbon or another symbol that carries meaning for you, this is a powerful reminder of your own perseverance. 

9. Infinity symbol

You are stronger than you know, and this is summed up with an infinity symbol. Like this curving symbol, your life continues on and on. There’s no stopping you, no matter what gets in your way. 

10. Tree

Like the strongest tree, you might bend, but you refuse to break. The winds might be rough sometimes, but you stand strong in the face of adversity. 

11. Cross or religious symbol

You might not have made it through alone. If your faith helped you along the way, honor this dedication to your religion with a Christian cross or another religious symbol that’s meaningful to you.

This is a reminder that you’re never really alone, no matter how dark things may seem. 

12. Cloud or lightning

Thunder and lightning might be scary, but it’s only temporary. Sunny days are ahead if you have the patience to wait for the break in the clouds. Honor your struggle through one of life’s biggest, darkest storms with a cloud or lightning memorial tattoo. 

13. Butterfly

Butterflies undergo some of the biggest transformations on their journey to beauty.

Though they start as small caterpillars and need a period alone as they cocoon, they ultimately transform. Like the butterfly takes flight, so do you into this new stage of life. 

14. Arrow

Last but not least, honor yourself as the warrior you are with an arrow tattoo. This simple tattoo design is a way to recognize your strength through all things.

Even if things might get you down, you’ll see your arrow and know it always strikes true. 

Ideas for Cancer Memorial Tattoo Sayings

Finally, there are many sayings that work great with tattoos. If you’re hoping to memorialize your experience or a loved one’s experience with cancer, you don’t need to search for the right words because we’ve found them for you.

This also makes one of the best last day of chemo gift ideas.

» MORE: Honor a loved one with an online memorial. Create one for free with Cake.

15. “Warrior”

Anyone who undergoes cancer is a warrior regardless of the outcome. There are few things in life as difficult and frustrating. Knowing that you’re not in control of your body is terrifying, but it also brings out our inner warriors. 

16. “Carpe diem” 

“Carpe diem” is Latin for “seize the day.” Likewise, as anyone who has come close to cancer knows, it’s always important to live each day like your last.

Who knows what the future will bring? We might only have this moment, so make the most of every second. 

17. “Forever in my heart”

For someone who is no longer around, honor their memory with “forever in my heart.” Though they may no longer physically be there with you, their spirit is never far. These are the memories that last a lifetime. 

18. “Have courage” 

Courage isn’t necessarily the absence of fear. It’s being afraid and still doing it anyway.

Many make the mistake of thinking they lack courage if they’re worried about cancer or what the future may bring. In reality, they take courageous steps each and every day. 

19. “One day at a time”

When living with cancer or after cancer, take each day one step at a time. Though things might seem challenging, it’s easier if you break it down into simpler pieces. Live in the moment, and live each day one at a time. 

20. “The present is a gift”

As anyone who has come close to death knows, the present is truly a gift.

It’s never guaranteed, and there’s no telling what tomorrow brings. In the meantime, we must learn to focus on today and take advantage of every moment. 

21. “Forever a fighter”

When life throws challenges your way, it’s easy to fall into the mentality of thinking the world is against you.

You’re not a victim. Whether you have cancer, lost a loved one to cancer, or you’re anxious about the future, you’re always a fighter. This is a status you bring with you through all of life’s ups and downs. 

Raise Cancer Awareness with a Cancer Memorial Tattoo

These cancer memorial tattoos above are perfect for anyone who’s come close to cancer. Whether you’ve lost someone special or you’ve finally received your cancer-free diagnosis, there is so much to honor about this process. Getting a tattoo is a permanent reminder of how far you’ve come and how much farther you have to go. 

A small memorial tattoo is a touching tribute, not only for yourself but also for others. Cancer affects everyone in some way, so it’s important to continue raising awareness in ways that mean something to us. 

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