When Tina and I designed my mastectomy coverup tattoo, I considered it a personal thing that would be seen by me, Tina, Scott, my surgeon and probably a few women that I would show it to now and then. But when Tina was approached by MSNBC’s Michelle Smawley to be featured in the segment of MSNBC Investigates: Tattooed Women, she said she just knew it had to be about our project.
I am a shy person so it took me a long time to cozy up to the idea but my mother and step-mother’s experiences with breast cancer surgery and especially the feedback from women who had seen my tattoo pushed me to tell the story.
Michelle came out from New York City with her crew and interviewed Tina, my husband and me for hours and once the filming was done, life went back to normal….for about two weeks and then the anxiety started. Would she make us look like ninnies? Had any of us said anything particularly stupid? What were we thinking when we agreed to this? Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I called her in New York and told her that she couldn’t go ahead. I was a nervous wreck and losing weight — the works! She laughed and said she had just gotten off the phone after having the same conversation with Tina.
She reassured me that she had made us a beautiful segment and that every morning the whole production crew crowded into her cubicle to watch it and all left with tears in their eyes. The only consideration they were having to consider was whether my topless images counted as nudity or not and Legal was reviewing that. She sent us a VHS tape of the show when it aired and we were all relieved, if not pleased. She will be my pick if I ever need a producer for a show. Afterwards, we would get calls from family members periodically, “You guys were on TV again” or Scott or I would get recognized at work or in restaurants occasionally. Tina and I were once at a Vince’s restaurant together and we ended up with a boothful of waitresses tearfully telling us how much the show had meant to them — it was wonderful.
But none of that compares to the buzz lately. We were at lunch with friends last week and one of them mentioned getting the pictures sent to him by a friend. Another friend from my knitting group got pics emailed to her from a friend in Australia and the tattoos were also featured on the Bob Rivers’ Show Facebook page with 10,870 likes, 7,923 shares and 1,028 comments, most of which weren’t from weirdos. I am not sure why the buzz goes in waves like this but if it helps more women to feel better about their bodies, then I will try to keep my blushes to myself.
Inga! I just saw you tattoo posted on facebook too, my a friend from Canada. Apparently facebook has removed the picture a couple of times, but people keep re-posting the picture not only for breast cancer awareness, but also because it is a beautiful tattoo!
Hello Inga, what a pleasure to find your blog. I am one of the people who has just discovered your beautiful story through Facebook. I posted about it on my blog last week http://patriciasands.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/the-best-tattoo-i-have-ever-seen/ and asked if anyone knew the origin of the photo as I had been unable to discover that information. One of my readers sent me the link to your blog. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it. You are a fine role model to so many woman who struggle with the results of breast cancer surgery. My daughter and many friends of ours are proud survivors of that pervasive illness and the louder we raise our voices, the better. Thank you for sharing this part of your life.
Thank you for your kind comments. I am happy to have you share the pix. >^..^<
War no more” You have made it through the mine field and still are dodging bullets from, we need to welcome you and other women back from their own personal Vietnam. When a person has been told they are on the border of their own mortality. I think a little loving rehabilitation in any way they choose is dam well in order for them. We live in 20th century not the 50’s where having breast cancer was a hidden secret. Not no more folks…
From a mastectomy sister, rock on…..