Tattoos and Breast Cancer

ShareWorthy? reports that each year “more than 296,000 American women face breast cancer,” and its website offers a wealth of information regarding reconstructive surgery. And with those surgeries come scars.

There are other options, too. Some women choose to forego reconstructive surgery altogether, adorning their chests with inked art instead.

You may have heard the buzz when Facebook censors removed a photo of a breast cancer survivor’s large chest tattoo earlier this year. The woman in the photo had undergone a double mastectomy and in place of where her breasts would be chose to place a beautifully ornate forest scene — complete with flowers, birds and animals — outlined with a Celtic chain.

Without getting into the controversy surrounding Facebook’s removal of the photo (and its later policy adjustment), more and more women, it seems, are choosing to use the art of ink as an alternative to reconstructive surgery, as well as a way to celebrate the victory of beating cancer.

Another course of action includes breast-cancer survivors using tattoos to embrace the scars left by the ordeal — both physically and mentally.

The organization Personal Ink, or P.INK, promotes control over women’s bodies following their mastectomies and currently provides breast-cancer survivors with a Pinterest site full of tattoo photos for inspiration, ideas and information about tattoo artists. The boards are also there for women (and men!) to share — or pin — personal stories, design ideas and artist referrals.

And there’s not just one way to use tattoos as a way to heal; as KnoWorthy’s Managing Editor put it: It’s all about choices. Here’s one story:

Personal Ink is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, but on October 21, 2013, the organization is hosting its Inaugural P.Ink Day in New York City. On this day, 10 women will receive tattoos from 10 of the country’s top tattoo artists.

The options celebrated with tattoos and breast-cancer survival are endless: From utilizing ink as a replacement for reconstructive surgery to adding a piece of colorful art to cover or highlight or embrace the scars to telling a story of the journey to supporting a loved one, there is no wrong way to discuss this topic.

Feature Image by Tattoo Artist Tina Bafaro