It was months after she got diagnosed with cancer that she was hit with the shocking reality of it all.

Sitting in the hospital waiting room where she would get radiation, Carmelina Baccari looked around at all the sick people with different types of cancer. And for the first time, it hit her like a ton of bricks.

I got my first tattoo when I turned 18. I did all of my research about locations, artists, how much it might hurt and how to properly take care of them. I was prepared. Each time I got a tattoo I was prepared. I now have four, each with their own meanings and place in my heart.

My latest tattoo, and by far my biggest one and the one I love the most, is for my grandmother. I have known for a long time that I wish to fill my left leg with tattoos representing my family members. I didn’t expect to begin this project so soon, joining those who find the painful process of getting a commemorative tattoo as a way to heal from emotional pain.

Voices Cherconcert Blackhorse copy
Cher opens her show descending on a platform with a stage incorporating video visuals, theme changes, elaborate costumes. Photo: Floyd Black Horse

For fans of all ages, the Cher concert in Calgary on Tuesday, May 28, brought out people who have loved the star since the beginning of her career. The legendary singer performed music from her 26th studio album, Dancing Queen, and included a back catalogue of some of her biggest hits.  

The media loves to shine light on her age while poking fun at the number of farewell tours she has done since Believe. However, the artist continues to roll with the punches and at 73, she emphasizes how women from her generation are needed now more than ever.

flowchartMegan Henlisia, 22, is a third-year computer science student at Mount Royal University, and the creator of her menstruation app, Flowchart. The digital app will enable users to track and share menstruation cycles with others. Photo by Georgia Longphee.

As computer science student Megan Henlisia looked around her male-dominated class at Mount Royal University, she realized she needed to disrupt some antiquated ideas about menstruation with her final project.

That’s how Flowchart was born, her menstruation-tracking app that allows users to track and share their cycles with partners, physicians and anyone else who would benefit from knowing more about a woman’s cycle.

“I mean, I did it to make people uncomfortable,” says Henlisia. “But I think being uncomfortable comes from a weird place, which I wanted to change.”

With so few women in Henlisia’s computer science program, there is little understanding of gender-related issues, like menstruation. An Alberta-wide analysis of computer science enrollments at several colleges and universities showed that in 2016, the ratio of students taking one computer science course was 4000 men to 600 women, respectively.

Jordan Kidney, a computer science professor at Mount Royal University, agrees more education on menstruation is needed but adds the gender divide isn’t the only factor at play.

“People don’t want to talk about it,” he says. “It annoys me that it’s so easy for people to draw penises on everything but they won’t talk about menstruation or believe that men should learn or know anything about it. But it’s something that happens that we shouldn’t ignore.”

Henlisia agrees more education is needed. She hopes her app, which is still at the prototype phase, will help to develop new behaviour about how people talk about menstruation.

“I can’t think of a better way to let [your partner] know what’s happening with your body,” she says.

A physician's ability to track a woman's menstrual cycle can be especially important. For example, as reported on the menstruation app and website, Clue, a woman in 2017 found an ovarian tumour; the discovery was linked to her being able to track her menstruation cycle and symptoms.

As for what's next for Flowchart, Henlisia says she’s still unsure about taking the app to market. 

“I don’t know if we’ll actually launch the project, but even if the idea is out there, that’ll be good enough,” she says.