Tattoo Tuesday

Zoey Woldman, family honor cousin with matching holly tattoos

Kali Bowden | Staff Photographer

Famous New York City tattoo artist Jon Boy had an opening the day the Woldmans went to get tattooed, so he completed them.

Zoey Woldman got a tattoo of a holly branch on her ribcage to honor her cousin, Torie Mae Costa who died of cancer last Christmas. Costa was Woldman’s age at the time.

Costa was diagnosed with stage four rhabdomyosarcoma cancer, a type of tissue, bone and muscle cancer, at age 16. A year later she was declared cancer-free, but two years of remission ended with the discovery that the cancer had returned. Woldman’s holly branch design symbolizes Christmas, the day Costa died.

Costa was initially diagnosed when doctors found her lungs filled up with fluid. Woldman, a senior writing major, explained how doctors put a tube in between Costa’s ribs in order to drain the fluid out of her lungs. Woldman got her tattoo in the exact spot that the tube was put into Costa’s ribs.

Although the two weren’t as close as Woldman said she would have liked, she still holds the memories they had as children very close to her. Costa lived in Woldman’s house for period of time during her childhood, where Woldman said they shared some of their closest memories.

“We used to sneak across the hall and play Barbies at like 3 a.m.,” Woldman said. “She was like the sister I never had.”

After Costa’s death, Woldman knew she wanted to get a tattoo in honor of her cousin. While in New York City for a weekend with her parents, Woldman’s mother suggested they visit the parlor of celebrity tattoo artist Jon Boy to see if he had an opening. To their surprise, the artist had an opening that weekend — Woldman and her parents would all leave the city with tattoos honoring Costa.

In addition to Woldman and her parents, Costa’s sister and stepfather also got tattoos in memory of Costa. Woldman calls her family a “tattoo family.”

Woldman said Costa had always wanted to get a tattoo, but was unable to do so given her condition. On Christmas day, Costa’s family gave her a temporary tattoo of a butterfly, right before she died. Woldman said her tattoo is a symbol of the one Costa was never able to have.

“Her passing caused a lot of stress on our entire family. It was the one thing I wanted to do for her to remember her.” She said. “She was my first best friend.”


Top Stories