“I didn’t know losing your hair could hurt. I didn’t know moving a fingernail could hurt.” -Kim
“I looked at her and said, ‘Am I going to die?’ and she said, ‘You might.'” -Christine
These are the words of two very brave breast cancer patients, Kim and Christine. Each have their own unique, personal and terrifying cancer stories, but they’ve both survived. And they both turned to tattoos to help them with their emotional recovery process.
P.INK is an organization that offers tattoos to women who have undergone mastectomies. The tattoos often cover up unsightly scars to make the patient feel better about her body. But they can also tell a person’s cancer story, constantly reminding her and all who see it of her beauty and strength.
In Kim’s case, the story starts with disbelief and grief. Her sister is a breast cancer survivor as well, but she didn’t believe it could happen twice. She has a son with autism, and she felt that too many difficult things were happening to her family at one time. She felt that cancer had stolen part of her femininity, and she struggled with how to regain that self-esteem.
“I’ve gotten to the point where if I could shower in a bra, I probably would.”
Christine, too, could not believe her diagnosis. She was in shock when her doctor told her not to be late, because she’d scheduled an appointment with a surgeon the next morning. Christine received a nipple tattoo after her reconstructive surgery, but it faded away almost to nothing over time. She and her husband, who was the only one who had ever seen her naked, got divorced after she’d finished treatment, and she wondered if anyone could ever love her again with all her scars.
Watch the video below to see the amazing tattoos P.INK provides to these lovely ladies at the Trinity Tattoo Collective in New York City, and learn more about the poignant stories behind each piece.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?