Inspirational. Amazing. Loving. A light that keeps on shining.
These are the words that circled around the room as friends and classmates gathered to support Susie Wiberg as she henna-tattooed her head during a watercolor class at Mitchell Community College. Encouragement and support from classmates and her husband, Tom, radiated throughout the building as Susie’s presence – and her smile – lit up the room. This is not the first time that Wiberg has semi-permanently tatted her head. Nearly a decade ago, Wiberg found out she had breast cancer; during chemotherapy treatment, Wiberg lost her hair but chose to find a creative way to deal with her current situation: she henna-tattooed her head. Diagnosed again in September and undergoing chemotherapy treatment since October, Wiberg decided to turn her head into a canvas for the second time around.
“We have to find some joy out of this disease,” Wiberg said with a smile that carried strength and wisdom. She pointed to her head. “The tattoo makes other people smile – other chemotherapy patients, those in the waiting room, the doctor and nurses. The way they take care of you makes me want to bring a little bit of brightness to their day because they are doing everything they can to make you feel good.”
Adding to her radiating light, Wiberg’s new henna tattoo features flowers and geometrical shapes, and is described by artist, close friend and neighbor Diane Reimann as untraditional. Free drawing on Wiberg’s head, Reimann reflected on their relationship: “She is my inspiration. She’s so involved in the community with all that she does. I want to be like Susie.”
Highland Canine Connect was also in attendance to support Wiberg, who currently serves on the non-profit board, and has been with the organization since the beginning. The non-profit, whose mission is to work with the community to create fulfilling and engaging connections between dogs and people in need, brought a service dog in training to accompany Wiberg throughout the duration of the henna-tattoo application; the entire henna tattoo was sketched with the dog contently stretched over Wiberg’s lap. With Susie’s connections, the nonprofit was able to bring service dogs into schools where students are able to practice reading to the canines while the service dogs receive continued training.
Susie’s story also gained the attention of WBTV, with a camera crew on campus, to film the special moment.
Mitchell Community College was privileged to share this unique moment with Susie Wiberg, who made sure to credit all the wonderful artists in the watercolor class who inspired her to share this moment on the Statesville campus: “This is just another way of expressing yourself,” said Wiberg as she smiled. “Plus, it’s a fun group. We’re not ones to hide our light.”