Taking Charge of Scars: Emerging Art of Mastectomy Tattoos

October 7, 2015

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, millions of women are faced with the tough decision of undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy, in addition to other forms of treatment like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Following these surgeries, which leave women with scars or no breasts at all, there is the option of having reconstructive surgery or leaving the scars as they are. Non-profits like P.Ink want to give women another option—tattoos. While tattooing over surgical scars is not a practice unique to P.Ink and can be requested at any tattoo parlor, P.Ink is one of the only nonprofits in the country that provides women with creative and self-expressive ways to transform their scars. 

Located in Boulder, Colorado, P.Ink’s goal is “to connect breast cancer survivors with tattoo artists who can provide a form of healing that no one else can” and to let survivors know that “cancer doesn’t have to leave the last mark.” The initiative was started by Noel Franus, inspired by his sister-in-law Molly Ortwein who wanted another option besides reconstructive surgery. In 2013, P.Ink raised enough money for “P.Ink Day” which gave 10 breast cancer survivors with tattoos, providing them with an empowering experience of reclaiming their bodies. Since then, “P.Ink Day” has become an annual event, and will be coming to 13 North American cities this year on the weekend of October 10th. Anyone who has gone through breast cancer or knows someone who has gone through it is well aware of the impact emotional well-being has on both the battle and healing process. Each woman copes and heals in a different way and the more options there are the better. For some women, tattoos are not just marks of beauty and individuality but a powerful symbol of resilience and triumph. 

Want to hear more stories or share yours? In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Cancer Support Community invites you to make your voice heard by becoming a member of our Cancer Experience Registry: Breast Cancer or Cancer Experience Registry: Metastatic Breast Cancer at https://www.cancerexperienceregistry.org/.