Special to Iredell Free News

Inspirational. Amazing. Loving.

A light that keeps on shining.

Those words filled the air as friends and classmates gathered to support Susie Wiberg as her head was henna-tattooed during a watercolor class at Mitchell Community College.

Encouragement and support from Wiberg’s 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 had her head semi-permanently tatted. Nearly a decade ago, Wiberg found out she had breast cancer. During chemotherapy treatment, she lost her hair but chose to find a creative way to deal with her situation — with a henna-tattoo.

Diagnosed again in September and undergoing chemotherapy treatment since October, Wiberg decided to turn her head into a canvas for a second time.

“We have to find some joy out of this disease,” Wiberg said with a smile that captured her strength and wisdom.

“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 radiance, Wiberg’s new henna tattoo features flowers and geometrical shapes.

As artist Diane Reimann drew on her friend and neighbor’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 has supported the nonprofit since its inception and currently serves on its board. The nonprofit, which works 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 henna-tattoo application.

The entire henna tattoo was sketched with the dog happily sprawled over Wiberg’s lap. With Susie’s connections, the nonprofit was able to bring service dogs into schools so students can practice reading to the canines while the service dogs receive training.

Susie’s story also gained the attention of WBTV, which dispatched a crew to Mitchell’s campus to film the special event.

Mitchell Community College was privileged to share this unique moment with Wiberg. She credited 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,” Wiberg said. “Plus, it’s a fun group. We’re not ones to hide our light.”

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