Reclaiming Femininity With Mastectomy Tattoos

Xavier in Stories

Follow Jan, a breast cancer survivor, in her journey of reclaiming femininity with mastectomy tattoos.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

Time and time again, mastectomy tattoos have proved themselves very helpful in helping many women reclaim their confidence and gain what they have lost from their battles with cancer. For one, having their breasts removed can make an impact to how they see themselves as women.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

Jan, an Australian woman who rose above cancer, chose to turn the scars that tainted her self-esteem into something beautiful; into something she won't be ashamed to show the marks that will always remind her one of the roughest time in her life. She shared her story with Monique Schafter of 7.30, a news program.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

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Jan came from a family with a history of cancer, but she never once believed that it will someday get to her. That was until the seventh of January 2014.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

Jan may have come out of surgery fine, but she knew she lost something else along with the cancer when she emerged from the operating room. Having both her breasts removed, Jan succumbed to the feeling many breast cancer survivors are too familiar with — the sense of having their femininity disparaged.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

“I felt lost. I didn't know how to feel. There were so many things running through my mind,” she says. “You know, how would I look? How would people treat me? I actually felt like I was — wanted to die,” she adds.

Jan decided she's not going to let these feelings dragging her down to keep her on the ground. She just didn't feel feminine enough. Which is why she knew she needed to do something about it. First, she underwent a reconstruction surgery.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

As she was recovering from her surgeries, a friend named Julie introduced her to a place in Darwin where they offer double mastectomy tattoos. It was an idea Jan instantly liked. Soon, Jan was making an appointment with the tattoo studio in no time.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

Jan flew from Perth over to Northern Territory to pay a visit to Miriam “Mim” D'abbs of Darwin City Tattoos to help her with her healing process.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Mim D'abbs Tattoo
Mim D'abbs Tattoo

Jan settled for a soft, floral design for her mastectomy tattoo, specifically choosing roses for her grandchildren.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

When asked about the whole process, tattoo artist Mim D'abbs replied, “I love my job. And, you know, tattooing is mentally enjoyable, even just in the day-to-day sense. But when it's actually beneficial to somebody emotionally as well, it kind of makes it a lot more rewarding and also quite humbling.”

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

Mim also explained how difficult it is to tattoo over a scar. Aside from the pain the client will go through from having the needle go over skin that has been damaged before, the skin might find it harder to hold the ink there, making it harder for both the client and the artist.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

Although Jan was very happy with her decision, not everyone in her family felt the same for her newfound confidence. Some even refused to talk to her for making the decision.

This is Jan's friend, Julie, the one who introduced her to the idea of mastectomy tattoos.

Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS
Courtesy of 7.30 / ABC NEWS

“This is the end, in the sense of my journey has now finished with the breast cancer. I'm just... I'm happy because it's the end result that I was hoping for.”

Watch the rest of Jan's journey here.

Xavier

@Xavier

When she's not writing for Tattoodo, Xavier likes experimenting with art and organizing local music shows. We're kidding, she's probably asleep. Follow her on Instagram @claudia_strife

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