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Tattoos help breast cancer survivors hide scar

Updated: 2015-01-15 07:30
By Associated Press in West Allis, Wisconsin (China Daily)

For women who have survived breast cancer, breast or nipple reconstruction can be a first step toward looking like their old selves. But there's another route.

An organization in the US state of Colorado is helping some of those women - as well as others who don't choose reconstruction - in their emotional healing through tattoos that help conceal the scars., a group based in Boulder, Colorado, helps connect survivors with tattoo artists. Its annual Day was in 2013, when it raised money and funded tattoos for 10 women in Brooklyn, New York. In 2014, the event expanded and featured volunteer tattoo artists in 12 cities in the US and Canada who helped 38 women.

"I think a lot of survivors see this as their opportunity to define what breast cancer looks like on them, and that is the ultimate in personal empowerment we are shooting for here," said Noel Franus, who launched with the help of others at the CP+B advertising agency, where he works.

Franus got the idea after his sister-in-law, Molly Ortwein, underwent a double mastectomy and wanted something more than reconstruction or tattooed nipples. She went to the family for ideas on body art and got a Pernambuco tree blossom tattoo in 2013.

The organization also has a charitable arm, the fund, which raises money to pay experienced tattoo artists to work with survivors. has created a smartphone app where women can look at designs and try one on via photographs.

Diane de Jesus was among the women tattooed in Brooklyn at the first event. The 34-year-old dietitian said she requested a dove on her reconstructed left breast because she dreamed about the birds while going through treatment.

She said getting the tattoo gave her a feeling of taking back control.


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