Editor’s Note: The following is the personal testimony of twin sisters who choose to use tattoos to transform themselves into living memorials.

Lacey and Lindsey LaManna grew up in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and graduated from Robbinsville High School in 2008 before graduating from college in 2012.

Today Lacey lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania, is an event planner at Finance of America in Horsham, Pennsylvania, and involved in a serious relationship. Lindsey, who lives in Chesterfield, is the marketing manager for SAP Digital in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, and is married.

While Lindsey decided to have the tattoo on her wrist (featured on the cover of this issue), Lacey chose her ankle. She says the reason fit two needs: she could see it daily and could cover it for professional reasons. While she says it was painful because the needle hit the bone the pain was small compared to what the memorialized person experienced.

Their story is similar to those of many spirited women who are determined to keep love and hope fresh — and are willing to show it.

We decided to get our tattoos in honor of our sister-in-law (who was like a sister to us for 10 plus years), Tracy LaManna.

We had always said that we would never get a tattoo unless it really meant something. Well, Tracy meant everything to our family, and the strength that she showed during the toughest two years of her life was truly inspirational.

Tracy suffered from Stage IV Lung Cancer (a type of lung cancer that affects non-smoking women), which later spread to her lymphoid and brain. Through all the pain, sickness, lack of energy, and hospital time she endured, we never once heard her complain or pity herself, and she never gave up. She continued to smile, care for others, and fight through it all.

We remember the day that we told Tracy that we wanted to get a tattoo in honor of her and how touched she was.

We told her that we wanted her to write “strength” in her handwriting for our tattoo because she was the true meaning of the term, and we wanted a constant reminder that the little things that we complain about or pity ourselves for are nothing compared to what she was dealing with. If someone could go through what she did and never complain or feel sorry for herself then we should never have any excuse to do so about any minuscule problems that we may have.

Tracy’s health took a turn for the worse, and she passed away before we could get her to write the word for us — just two weeks shy of her 34th birthday, leaving behind her daughters, MaKayla and Charlee, who were ages 2 and 3 at the time.

Although we were never able to get Tracy to write the word for us, we still wanted to honor her and all that she stood for. Tracy was, and will always be, the epitome of strength, and she was, and will always be, an inspiration to us all.

But this tattoo is not just a tribute to her, it’s for us. It’s a constant reminder of her strength and an inspiration to keep our head up during the tough times, stop complaining, smile often, and never stop fighting for things we want in life.

— Lacey LaManna and Lindsey Makela

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