Nothing stirs a debate more amongst breast cancer previvors and survivors more than what to do with the “girls”. It is a truly boobylicious debate.
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 ❤ 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;
I just had to reply to the breast debate blogger, you go girl! I agree that we ,as breast cancer sisters and as women in general ,need to stop judging and start loving each other. We need each others support and its a type of support only other women can give. I want to give a HUGE shout out to the survivor who had the black bra tattoo done, I LOVE IT and U ROCK! Screw cancer and all the scars it leaves behind, we are bigger than this disease! Julie from Indiana, Flat and free of cancer!
Sending you a HUGE virtual hug for appreciating this post. Thank you so very much!
Well said! If only everyone in the BC community were as wise as you. One lesson I learned loud & clear from this whole wretched journey is that every woman’s (or man’s) cancer experience is as different as their tumors’ makeup.
Thank you Carla! We are group of women who DID NOT choose this journey but I embraced it! We all need to embrace each other!!
You rock on! Thank you for allowing me the privilege of writing about you and showing people your new “bra”
Wow…. I’m so touched to see my sisters breasts posted in a Blog!!! Melissa you rock this piece of ‘art’ by “Rebellious Tony” of “Ink Couture” in New York!!! Show it Proudly!!!
If anyone knew the pain, struggles, ups/downs and the uncertainty of life each cancer patient faces… I think those who judge would be more open to a kinder & accepting heart.
Our society is so diverse…. we shouldn’t judge and it’s definitely not our place to do so! My sister, Melissa is AMAZING & she chose to have a Tattoo placed over several scars that are constant reminders of the turmoil that Cancer… yes I said CANCER caused in her life. This is a beautiful piece of art that she can wear proudly and not look in the mirror with regret or heartbreak.
I am proud this is posted & hope it stays posted or even blogged about!! She didn’t choose to have Cancer but while she is alive, she has the option to Stay Positive, Move Forward, & look @ her scars with a whole new image that will be uplifting to her soul.
Your family LOVES you and we think YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!!
Thank you for such a lovely comment. It brings tears to my eyes. You are so right, none of us chose to go on this journey. And I am a big fan of a lot of the breast art I have seen including your sister’s . And the reason i love her art is hers comes from a strong and happy place – it’s not angry art. It’s a life celebration and moving forward art
Thank you for reminding everyone that there are no right or wrong answers that apply to everyone only what is right or wrong for the person themselves to decide. I work at a hospital that specializes in late stage cancer so I have had a lot of contact with patients facing the battle and the people who support them. If there is one thing I have learned through my experiences – the more positive and stress free the environment the better it is for a person facing this battle and recovering from this battle.
That is why I was genuinely surprised to see people who have gone through these experiences lash out at Melissa for the choices she has made. But most of all I feel sorry for them for they will never get to know what a truly amazing person she is. Anyone who has seen her knows she is beautiful (the type of beauty that takes your breath away) but she is truly one of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met She is tough and likes to make people think she is hard, but inside she is one of the most caring and passionate people you will ever know. She is so supportive of her fellow BC sisters having volunteered to help talk with others going through the experience and telling her inspirational story of fighting and kicking Cancer’s ass.
All that said, I consider myself to be the luckiest guy on Earth because she said yes to me when I asked her to marry me. We have three amazing kids who are growing up to be good people thanks in large part to their amazing mother.
Again, thank you for this post. It is a great message of love and support that should resonate with anyone who has been involved with or has dealt with Cancer.
Will, if you were close enough to hug, I would. I have a guy like you and I feel like the luckiest gal in the world because of it. I am glad Melissa has someone just as amazing!
When I write, I bear in mind those who have gone before in my family who have had cancer and even childhood friends who have died of breast cancer.
I was lucky, I only had to have a partial mastectomy, but I had to come to terms with the possibility of losing one or more breasts before surgery. Where I got lucky is one of my regular doctors was a survivor- she answered every dumb question I had including what the nipple tattoos on reconstruction looked like and how they were done.
I am so happy you wrote to me- it means the world. Incredibly I personally have taken heat for celebrating your amazing wife