Do you wear your chest flat and proud, lopsided and loving it (that would be me although some days I don’t love it so much), or proud reconstructed glory?
And then of course there is always the sub-debate which goes on between previvors who popped on some genetic test and decided to have a preventative mastectomy (or they did it plain and simple because of an overwhelming familial history of breast cancer) and us survivors who have actually had and been treated for the disease known as breast cancer.
Some women show their scars proudly, some hide that they even ever had the disease. There is no right or wrong, it is personal choice and our individual bodies. I know some women who have gotten all sorts of tattoos involving breast cancer, I even remember reading the blog of a woman who did beautiful temporary henna tattoo art on her head while she was bald during chemotherapy.
So this woman Melissa who is on a BC board with me decided to do her own personal SCAR Project and had Rebellious Tony Ink Couture of Staten Island (that’s a mouthful LOL) tattoo a perfect black bra on her reconstructed breasts. It’s not for everyone, but it sure seems to have stirred debate.
Look, it is her body, her choice. She is choosing not to hide, but instead to celebrate. She also likes tattoos and wanted to further express herself and her femininity and her strength. I say good for her for doing something for herself. File this under You Go Girl!
Melissa wrote to me when I asked if I could share her story:
My back story is I was diagnosed at the age of 34. I had just delivered twins 7 months before my diagnosis, I lost my daughter and my son survived. Thinking I has just had a baby they assumed I was estrogen positive. No, I am triple negative with 3 lymph nodes positive. I never wanted fake tattooed nipples as cancer had taken mine so I waited 7 years to decide what I wanted. I have not worn a bra so I thought I want a black lace bra, nothing like that to make you feel sexy. So I found an artist from NYC and I got a bra. I would love for you to share it and I don’t mind you using my name. Much love <3 Melissa
Me? I can appreciate tattoo art, but you won’t see me getting them because I just don’t dig needles. As for lop-sided boobies? Well what is important to me is that I am alive. Plastic surgery is also not for me.
But my personal choices with regards to life as a breast cancer survivor are not ones I will foist on others, and I think Melissa did a cool thing. I am sharing the photo. If I find that people are just taking it to put on fake websites and whatnot, I will remove it.
I am also going to get on my soapbox for a minute – I think it is prudent to point out that we of the breast cancer sisterhood are a very diverse group: different races, ethnicities, from literally all over the globe. Some of us are survivors, some of us are just beginning the journey, and some of us are BRCA positive previvors.
Some of us have had partial mastectomies to remove tumors. Some of us have had full and double mastectomies to either remove tumors or as a preventative measure. We all handle it differently, and I think we need to put aside the visceral reaction to scars and see the beauty in survival.
We all handle our journey differently, and it is not my place to judge. I will say however, that have noticed a lot of people being hard on others in the sisterhood for whatever reason. And I will expand on that thought by saying that I think a lot of cases people don’t realize they’re being hard on others.
When you are on the journey of breast cancer, and whatever path that journey takes you, it is nearly impossible to be positive and happy every day. That is just reality. But as a wise friend told me when I was beginning my journey, some days you need to have those down times so you can climb out on the other side of the mountain and regain your positivity.
Life is not a sappy Hallmark card, but I do think some days as survivors and previvors we should learn to be kinder to one and other.
I don’t often throw a Bible verse up anywhere but I am
doing so today.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;