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Photos: Tattoos help bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran to heal

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John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

For Boston Marathon bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran, the many tattoos that now grace her body serve a purpose.

"The tattoos tell a story," said the 20-year-old Dracut resident. "With my actual scars [from the bombing], I didn't have a choice of how I wanted my body to look. But by getting tattoos I am marking my body the way I want.

"I love expressing myself," she said.

On April 15, 2013, Sydney was standing with her mother, Celeste, and her father, Kevin, on the sidewalk near the Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. Her mother lost both legs in the bombing, and Sydney nearly died from a severed femoral artery. A piece of the pressure-cooker bomb the size of a cell-phone lodged in her thigh.


Sydney got her first tattoo in the fall of 2013: a lion on her upper back. She had to wait for her doctor's approval so there would be no complications with the blood thinners she was taking after many surgeries.

"The tattoos show how far I've come," Sydney said. "If people ask me what they represent, I'm not afraid to share my story. It's out there for the world to see."

“The lion represents strength and courage to me. It is really meaningful to me, and I draw strength from that tattoo,” said Marathon bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran, 20. This was her first tattoo and it took three to four hours to complete. The tattoo artist is Tiago Campos, of Lowell, who owns Lupo Ink. "I wanted my hands to look like claws when you took the picture," she said.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Sydney Corcoran and her brother, Tyler. "His lion is more fierce. I loved how fierce it is,” Sydney said. "My mom jumped back and asked why is it so mean. I said to her, ‘This is Sydney, she roared back twice after facing death twice; and roared it away,’” she said. Sydney suffered a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage in 2010 after being struck by a car while crossing a street in Hampton, N.H. Tyler got the lion tattoo — his first tattoo — in 2014. "He has a snake and a dragon like I do," she said. "The Celtic lines represent our Irish heritage.”John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
"The woman crying represents the sorrow and the hardships that our family has been through," Sydney said of Tyler's tattoo. Tyler got the tattoo in 2015 on the inside of his left upper arm. "The tears flow down and turn into flowers and turn into cherry blossoms. It represents the good things coming out of our sorrow, like how our family is growing closer," Sydney said.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
”I had been seeing my therapist for a while and I really got to a dark place. I was suicidal. My therapist said it's your choice. She really told me that you have to choose to live," Sydney said. She has the words inscribed on her right arm near her wrist. "I really love to write and see it when I write," she said. "I look at it all the time."John Tlumacki
"There's a snake on my arm and the dragon is above it. That way I always have my parents with me," Sydney said. Her dad Kevin was born year of dragon, and her mother Celeste was born the year of snake. "I've always loved henna art and that fills in the blank places," she added.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
“I wanted a flower. If I'm having a bad day it's really important for me to have some kind of plant around," Sydney said. "So I'll buy flowers and arrange them, and put them in my room. I always have fresh flowers around. I love nature and feel close to it."John Tlumacki
”On one leg I have the sun, and the moon on the other. They remind me to keep myself grounded and balanced," Sydney said. The sun tattoo is on her right leg and covers two inches of a scar that Sydney got from a surgery to alleviate pressure in her injured leg.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff