|November 1, 2012
Breast cancer awareness leaves a permanent mark on Justice Nicolai
By Lailani Upham
Justice Nicolai’s Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbon tattoo symbolizes support and life of cancer fighter Claudette Bird. (Courtesy photo)
PABLO — Seventeen-year old Justice Nicolai has been radical about pink since the day he heard about a close family friend and school mentor, Claudette Bird, being diagnosed with breast cancer — that was over six years ago.
Nicolai is a senior at Two Eagle River School and has been attending since ninth grade; however he has known Bird since he was two years old, says his mother, Tedi Laurence.
Bird is the Two Eagle River School home school coordinator and has been a liaison for parents and the school for 20 years.
Laurence was also a student at TERS during the time Bird was there as well.
“Claudette is the first person he ever knew with breast cancer, and he took it pretty hard when he heard about it,” Laurence said.
Bird was a mentor who guided Laurence through school and the love was visibly extended to her son even before he stepped foot into TERS as a student.
Bird was diagnosed with breast cancer over six years ago and today is a walking marvel of vitality to not only to her family, but to the students and people she comes across.
When the initial ill-fated news reached the Laurence house about Bird, young Justice took the news seriously stated his mother, Tedi.
“Whenever we’d see a pink ribbon or a place to donate, he’d (Justice) make me donate one or five dollars. He would tell me — not ask,” stated Laurence.
The “donating” is still happening today, says Laurence.
Nicolai has seven tattoos and the pink ribbon with Claudette Bird’s name encircled within is the latest and greatest one.
Bird said she came to school one day in September and someone asked her if she saw Nicolai’s last tattoo. She was walked into the classroom where he was to “check it out.”
Bird was amazed and speechless.
Tears surfaced as the young action of support traced her heart, “I was overwhelmed and could not believe he did that,” Bird said. “That’s huge, that’s like forever. I can’t even say what that means to me.
Almost every October since Nicolai has been in high school he has been an activist for Breast Cancer Awareness.
One year he wore a pink wig embellished with pink attire and pink beads.
Another year he died his hair pink and wore high pink socks.
This past year was a tattoo and if the only store open 24-hours (Wal-Mart) had the pink spray paint – Nicolai would have showed up to school with a pink body, said his mother.
“I told him he would have a hard time getting that stuff off, and he said he didn’t care. He wanted to it for Claudette,” Laurence said.
Laurence said he always comes up with outlandish ideas to bring awareness and show support to fighting the sickness that almost took his second mom.
“He came up with the idea that night and took off to Missoula at midnight to get the spray paint, but found out he couldn’t because he wasn’t 18,” his mom added.
“I don’t care,” said Nicolai. “It’s all or nothing.”
“When I saw it I didn’t know what to say – that’s like over the top,” Bird stated.
Nicolai said he wants to go on to study sports medicine after graduation.