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Wish granted for Nova Scotian woman battling with ALS


For over two years now, Bonnie Petten has been battling ALS and according to everyone who knows her, she’s been doing it with nothing but grace, strength and positivity.

“I decided that I would not be defined by the disease. I am currently experiencing ALS but I do not have it and it would never have me,” said Petten in a message to CTV News.

She was first diagnosed in early November 2021 and now uses an eye gaze machine to communicate.

“Nobody deals with ALS like Bonnie has,” said one of her private care workers, Mikayla Grant.

“She wakes up everyday and she still smiles and she’s not hateful, by all means at all, not a bone in her body could ever be rude to anyone.”

Mikayla started working with Bonnie over a year ago and she thinks of her as both a friend and a part of her family now.

She says that ever since she met Bonnie, she’s been asking for one thing – a tattoo that reminds her of home in Newfoundland.

A close up of Bonnie Petten's tattoo is pictured. (Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)

“I have a favourite rock by the bay and I have watched many sunsets from it and watched the otter and the duck families. There were wild roses and morning glories everywhere,” explained Petten.

She says she grew up with her wonderful adoptive parents in Conception Bay South and spent her childhood running around outside with the bay as a backdrop.

“The tattoo is a Celtic cross in front of the sun setting on the bay with a wild rose on one side and a morning glory on the other. It was designed by a friend, Newfoundlander and tattoo artist, Ken Power,” she said.

Last week, Mikayla set out to make Bonnie’s wish come true and posted on Facebook looking for a tattoo artist that would come to Amherst and give Bonnie the tattoo in her home.

“I always believed that cancer was the worst, the top of the line, until I met Bonnie and saw really how terrible this disease was,” she said.

“She really has changed my whole world and if anyone deserved this tattoo and to have something in her last days, it would have been Bonnie.”

A photo of Bonnie Petten, Leanne Shaw, Mikayla Grant and Hannah Dulenty. (Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)

The post took off online with shares throughout the Maritimes and community members reaching out to see how they could help.

In just 24 hours, a tattoo artist from Halifax said he would come out and do it, and on Sunday, Bonnie got her wish.

“I am pinching myself, or I would if I could,” Bonnie joked.

“I’m meeting the most amazing, loving, kind people since this demon disease. The man who drove from Halifax to do this for me was a very generous human and I can’t thank him enough and he refused to allow me to pay him a cent. I’m elated and so grateful to have such a wonderful memory of home every time I look down.”

This is Bonnie’s first tattoo, she says she was waiting for something that was really meaningful and she is so happy she had the chance to do it.

“Now that I am terminal, I said ‘what am I waiting for?’ I’m happy with the results and if I had known they are not painful, I would have done it long ago,” she said.

It’s also unlikely that Bonnie will be the only person with a piece of her home tattooed on her skin.

“My wonderful team has been talking about getting the tattoo to remember me by and I am truly honoured,” she said.

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