Mastectomy Tattoo Pictures and Impact Stories

Tattoo by BB June
Tattoo by BB June

My journey with breast cancer has been a story 6 years in the making. As with most survivors, it's been a roller coaster ride with gut-wrenching lows, sensational highs, and more twists and turns than I can count, or care to remember. My experience with the Phoenix Project is, without a doubt, the most life-changing and life-affirming part of my cancer experience and the perfect conclusion (please God) to a wild ride.

Those twists and turns? In addition to the lumpectomy, I've had 5 corrective surgeries to remove scar tissue caused by my body's reaction to radiation treatments. My final surgery was a tissue flap procedure done 1 year ago. It was "successful" in that it brought health back to the radiated tissue; however, the scaring on my breast and 12-inch incision on my side was significant.

Scaring...A small price to pay for being a survivor. Right? That's what I tried to keep telling myself. However, as the months went by, I realized that those scars were a constant reminder of the lows, and more and more, I wanted to celebrate the highs of my journey. The traditional scar treatments (laser, surgery, creams) weren't appealing. Sorry, been there, done that. So I googled "celebrating breast cancer scars" and was brought to tears with image after image of beautifully tattooed breast cancer survivors. I thought, "But I'm not a tattoo person. Wait a minute. I'm also not a cancer person. If I can get cancer, then I can get a tattoo. I'm going to do this, for me!"

After searching for highly rated tattoo artists in the area, I found Brittany at Thistle and Pearl. We immediately connected during our consultation. Not only because she is an amazingly gifted artist and beautiful sole, but she is also a former student of mine. Karma is awesome! She shared her ideas for a tattoo which would incorporate my scars into a natural floral spray of honey-suckles and soft blooms. With tears streaming down my face, it was at that moment I realized just how deeply my journey had scared me.

Cost...Wow! I knew tattoos weren't cheap but hadn't considered how extensive and expensive mine would be. Even though I'm still paying off medical bills, I was sitting in that consultation calculating budget cuts or part-time jobs to make it happen. That's when Brittany told me she had recently gotten involved with the Inked Phoenix Project and that I could apply for financial assistance. Again, Karma is really awesome! The application process was easy, and the communication between the artist, the Project coordinator and myself was outstanding. I was shocked, and incredibly grateful, when I learned 100% of the cost would be covered.

Happy endings...My scars have been turned into a beautiful celebration of a challenging journey.  Thank you to everyone involved with this amazing, life-changing project. You are my heroes!

After 3 surgeries, and left with not only the mastectomy scar, but also drain scars and fat grafting scars, this survivor was able to use tattoos to cover all of them

I had a double mastectomy in May of 2016. I was so happy that the surgery was all I needed. I had been through chemo and radiation 28 years before, and I didn’t want to go through it again. Going though the reconstruction process is a scary and funny thing. I went from looking like a 12 year old boy to developing breast every few weeks when I would get my ‘fill’. All I could think about was wanting to look ‘normal’ again. My surgeon had told me about Areola renewal, and I knew that was the route I wanted to take. I had gone through a divorce and I couldn’t imagine not looking like a real woman as I ventured back into the dating world. Having had the double mastectomy and thinking that I wouldn’t be attractive to anyone was my biggest insecurity. Once I got my tattoos in January of 2017, I felt whole again. My friend Kirsten and I were going through the same thing.... however she opted for a more artistic way to cover her scars. It’s funny, when she saw my 3D Areola’s, she thought they were awesome. When I saw her art, I was so envious of her new look. After that, I thought of a way I could look normal, with the tattoo nipples, but also do something that would look artsy too. That’s when I thought about having demi bra tattoos.. but still show my 3D nipples. I love my new look. Ike totally captured what I wanted and exceeded my expectations! My scars are completly covered. I feel beautiful and a little bad ass!

> The radiologist recommended a biopsy that eventually showed pre-cancer and the need for a lumpectomy. I was taken back, but hopeful because of early detection, and my surgeon felt confident that "it " was gone. I was grateful, but still uneasy, so I asked what we could do for a little more reassurance. My surgeon referred me to an oncologist to talk about prevention. When I met with the oncologist, we talked about my options and though I had to ask for it, she gave me the choice of having an MRI in 6 months. This gave me some peace and hope for closure with the MRI in six months. > > To my shock, six months later, the MRI showed concern. The biopsy from that showed stage two cancer. I had played the scenarios in my head. For me, I knew what I had to do--double mastectomy. My surgeon recommended a plastic surgeon, and miraculously, I met with him that same day. After meeting with him, I was shown pictures of other's mastectomy reconstructions. I was devastated. Even with all the reconstruction these women had gone through, it was apparent that I would never be the same. I started to unravel. The doctor's nurse reached to console me and asked if she could show me something. Then, she showed me pictures of a former patient--a breast cancer survivor and total badass who had gone through reconstruction and had decided to get beautiful mastectomy tattoo. I wiped the tears from my face. I felt empowered for the first time since the diagnosis. It gave me such hope and was something I knew I could look forward to at the end of what would surely be a long hard journey. > > For me, it was about believing I could have the power to make something beautiful from a place of great despair. A year after my last reconstruction surgery, I had the privilege of working with that badass chick, Kirsten Michaud and The Inked Phoenix Project. I got to meet with one of the many incredibly gifted artists who partner with The Inked Phoenix Project, BB June, and shared my journey with her. From there, BB just "got me" and crafted a custom design that symbolized my journey. It had great personal significance for me and told MY story. Kirsten, The Inked Phoenix Project, and BB, were just as much a part of my recovery as were the incredible group of doctors and nurses and family and friends who surrounded me through it all. > > In October of 2018...yep, breast cancer awareness month and two years since MY journey began... I received MY custom mastectomy tattoo and MY closure. So why all the "MY' in all caps? Because no one's journey is the same, but this has been MY journey and I just can't imagine me now without the very personal gift The Inked Phoenix Project gave to me. > > If you're reading this, I would encourage you to consider helping someone be empowered again. Let them know that something beautiful can grow from a place of great despair. Support The Inked Phoenix Project. They provide funding for mastectomy and veteran tattoos and they are well worth your investment.

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