Breast cancer affects one in eight women. The American Cancer Society estimates that 231,840 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year alone. Many women opt for a mastectomy or double mastectomy when they are diagnosed, while others use the surgery as a preventative measure.
Losing a part of yourself is a life-altering experience, and some women are expressing that with art, covering up their scars with tattoos. Powerful as well as beautiful, they inspire us all.
Do you have a mastectomy tattoo? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that you can inspire others! In your email, please include 1) a clear photo of your tattoo, 2) a short description of what your tattoo means to you and 3) whether you would like your name to be included with your submission.
“I got ovarian cancer when I was 20 that ended with a total hysterectomy at 22. I then received the news that I had the ATM genetic mutation. With the support of my amazing family, and awesome surgical oncologist, I made the decision to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy last year at 28. I felt like I had lost everything that made me a woman. When I started working with my artist, I realized that tattoos are more than just a means of covering up scars. They have made me love my body. All the props go out to my amazing artist, Mike Dunn, Monarch Tattoo in Loveland, OH. My work of art is actually one massive piece that extends from my breast down my back. It's still a work in progress!” – Samantha Whisenhunt
“I got my tattoos at P.ink Day Boulder - 2014. Even though I was a 12 year survivor at the time, and the scars had faded, they were still the first thing I saw in the mirror every day. I had three separate nipple reconstructions and areola tattoos, and was extremely disappointed with the result every time. I was done with trying and just wanted them covered up for good! P.ink and my tattoo have given me the gift of loving my reflection in the mirror – maybe even more than I did before my mastectomies. My tattoo represents my love of my black rescue cats, the columbine is the state flower of my new adopted state, Colorado, and my zodiac sign, cancer, is ruled by the moon. I continued my tattoo with my artist Friday Jones, in April of 2015 where she added color, willow branches (my favorite tree), and leaves and butterflies that represent my two nieces and one nephew.” – Karen Richards
“I was very lucky to get my mastectomy tattoo at P.ink Day LA 2015 by Rich Pineda. The experience and tattoo are so empowering. I no longer see the scars of what I went through. Instead I see gorgeous cherry blossoms, symbolic of living each day to its fullest!” – Sherri Rosenthal
“My breast scars were beautified and prove that I can still be beautiful and sexy after breast cancer. I was fortunate to have my tattoo donated by an amazing artist, Kelly Torres. The three ribbons are for triple negative breast cancer. The hearts with roots symbolize my love, support, and groundedness. The wings are for my angels in heaven and on Earth. The color pink for breast cancer and purple for surviving. Loving life and grateful to be alive! Enjoying and embracing my journey!” – Deanna Cummaro
“This mastectomy tattoo symbolizes a new chapter, now my boobs are as pretty as I feel. No more ugly scars! My tattoo was done by Matt Stebly at Twisted Anchor Tattoo in Ocean Springs, MS.” – Candi Ford
“My story is long, but it ended with, after three cancers, the loss of my reconstruction. Horribly scarred, I was offered the chance to get a scar-covering tattoo by P.ink. Loving it, I continued the tattoo with the same artist, Brittany Bauza, months later. I now see my chest as a piece of art. It has totally transformed my reflection in the mirror and made me feel whole again.” – Bernadette McLaughlin
“My intention was not to cover the scars. I wanted to tell the killing cancer that its place is now occupied by my tattoo… This tattoo helped me to feel comfortable in my body again. Since that time, I try to inform other women about mastectomy tattoos here in Germany.”
“I am sharing my mastectomy with the world to show that my beauty is on my terms. I wanted to complete my reconstruction and turn my mastectomy into a work of art. Meaghan Goeb from Montreal, Canada did my tattoo.”
“Here is my tattoo J” – AnnMarie Otis of Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer
"After being diagnosed in August 2013 with stage 4 breast cancer, I had no idea where this journey would take me. By the grace of God, I am here today and stable! I am proud to show off this gorgeous masterpiece [by David Allen] which makes me feel beautiful again, not only on the outside but the inside too. It's amazing how it has boosted my self-confidence. I can now look in the mirror with a big smile and think, ‘Wow, what a journey this has been to get to this point and how blessed I truly am!" – Sharon Wylie