On a Monday morning not long ago a friend, a breast cancer survivor, sent me an interesting link. She called it weird. Or worried I might think it weird, but I didn't. Not at all.
There are some things we who have never had a mastectomy don't ever think about. That is, until your best friend or your mom or sister has a "double" and part of the reconstruction process is what's to be done about the fact that your breasts look strangely bereft without their central high point - the nipple and areola? It's difficult enough to suffer removal and treatment, but when reconstruction is done, your brain is cooked once again, when you look in the mirror because these new mothers look like they were ordered from a doll factory and plunked on a flesh-colored torso. Remember those bare Barbies? Uh-huh.
The answer is that the color gets tattooed on. I remember my friend was a little apprehensive about making that appointment with Mayo's officially sanctioned tattoo "artist." The procedure seemed like simply one more indignity one had to suffer post-surgery. The results were less than satisfactory. It was like the "artist" simply stenciled twin targets on the front of each one. A salmon-colored circle with, ta-da! a chocolate brown bull's eye. (C'mon guys, A five year old could do better.) Complaining seems pointless, though, when you're not a complainer, and when there are no categories for comparison. In fact, when you didn't even know there was a category for medical tattoo!
Now she wishes, at the time, she could have had someone who was more of an artist, a tattoo artist. Someone with an eye for beauty and color, like this guy. She wishes she could get the word out. I'd like to support that desire. We ALL know someone who has had a mastectomy even if we ourselves forget about it after awhile because clothing worn over reconstructive surgery makes them appear normal. But that person doesn't forget. Every glance in the mirror is a reminder.
So I thought it was a tender, vulnerable thing to share with me. I just never knew! I'm glad she did because this post is a very small way to support breast cancer survivors. Here's the link: Breast Cancer Survivors Find the Michelangelo of Nipple Tattoos