Wollongong woman Casey-Leigh Rose had to seek medical advice before getting her first tattoo to make sure her body could cope.
The 29-year-old model has lived her whole life with stage three kidney disease, Addison’s disease, hypoparthyroidism, ovarian failure and a autoimmune issues. So needles for the sake of it? Probably not what the doctor ordered.
Casey-Leigh Rose did her research anyway. She weighed up the pros and cons and decided to go for it.
“Then one tattoo turned in to a sleeve and am now planning the next limb to be made a Picasso. An expensive but pretty addiction,” she said.
Casey-Leigh’s body art will be on show in Sydney on Saturday night when she competes in the Miss Tattoo Sydney 2018 competition, which is part of the Miss Ink 10th anniversary tour.
“When I step on stage Everything goes silent when I am up there on the runway,” she said. “It is my happy place. A place I am not sick.”
Having chronic illness, Casey-Leigh said she experiences a lot of discrimination and setbacks “as society puts you in to a category where it is too hard to try and fit us in”.
“A lot of people who haven’t lived or experienced illness just don’t understand,” she said.
“Especially going into an industry that can be full of narscicsm, negativity and be incredibly judgemental, it’s important to keep your mindset strong enough to overcome that and find the positives.”
Casey-Leigh’s sleeve is full of emotion “from small pieces of love to a very big piece full of heartbreak not just from a lover but the heartbreak of the recent suicide of my best friend of 18 years”.
“Friends can break your heart too. But that piece is my favorite creation. It has blood and it has beauty.”
Saturday night Casey-Leigh will be competing for a spot in the finals of Miss Ink 10th Anniversary tour.
“Miss Ink is an opportunity for me to speak for those with chronic life-long illness and prove that our life does not have to be dull or boring,” Casey-Leihj said.
“Every stage competition I enter I do so for my own feat. A date is set and I challenge myself to get to my goal within my limitations.
“Even if I don’t place or win I have already won by just being able to show up and grace a stage.
“So many people tell me I can’t do things because of my illness and ask me why I do this. I say why not?”