Here is an article from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Newsletter that focuses on Tina, me and the current trend in mastectomy tattoos. Yep, it is a trend. We met at her shop and photographer Robert Hood took a few shots of us together. Here is the picture of me. Click the link below to see a picture of Tina with me as the background. One of the other tattooists mentioned, Vyvyn Lazonga, runs the shop where Tina worked when we began our project.
I was on the front page of Today.com. Well, the tattoo was anyway… I’ve been interviewed for various magazines that are running the mastectomy tattoo angle this year but this is the first article that has a picture besides Tina’s old file copy. Tina and I got together and did a real photo shoot. So this one actually has my face! I am not ashamed to say it took me awhile to get with this… The last time I did any modeling was for the MSNBC documentary in ’94, ya, back before I was 50.
Anyway, writer Diane Mapes did a great job with the article, most of the comments on the story have been positive and I have gotten some beautiful emails from women. I’ve been recognized several times out and around Seattle and people have been really complimentary.
You can click the link at the bottom of this post to read it now because I am mentioned in it, and… they spelled all my names correctly!
That is the Guardian, as in Guardian, UK. Yes, the paper everyone is reading in those British murder mysteries I watch on Netflix.
I never would have heard about it except that I received an interview request from a Seattle publication because of it and she mentioned reading it.
Back in 1993-94, I never thought that this would become a trend but apparently it has. Here is a quote from the article, ‘Women who have chosen tattoos over reconstruction cite the reclaiming of their bodies as the main reason for the choice. Some women refuse reconstruction because they feel it is a denial of the impact of cancer, both positive and negative, and that a tattoo (often very carefully designed to express the personal nature of the cancer journey) is the exact opposite.’
Facebook Allows Mastectomy Photos: Tattooed Model In Controversial Picture Speaks Out
Now lest I sound ironic, people really need access to a community site for pictures like this. When I was considering the surgery, I would have loved to have been able to see pictures like you all can now.
I just honestly can’t say I ever considered I’d be the “poster girl” for prophylactic mastectomy, or nudity in the media, or tattoos in the workplace, or whatever direction this is taking this week, it is interesting. Interesting and a little scary. Anyway…
I was engrossed in making a presentation on the Part of Fortune for class this morning and completely missed Angelina Jolie’s announcement that she had had a prophylactic mastectomy until it was brought to my attention by a friend who asked if she could use a quote from me in light of it!
Once I looked the article up, I was thrilled that she had gone ahead with the surgery since I had thought about it back when she’d lost her mother to Ovarian Cancer, a related cancer. What shocked me was reading so many negative comments from people who don’t understand the context of a decision like hers. Sharon Osbourne received the same negative feedback when she made the same decision last year and it just amazes me how cruel and shallow people can be. I guess they are just proof that some people never really make it out of middle-school.
Their situations point up some differences between 1993, when I had my surgery, and 2013. In 1993, the BRCA gene test was new and no one was quite sure what percentage of cases it would account for, so I didn’t even have the test. We mostly discussed family medical histories. I had a traditional mastectomy which removed all breast tissue, leaving large scars. Reconstruction at a later time was offered but I preferred to stick with external prostheses and to cover the scars with tattoos. Angelina chose a skin sparing, immediate reconstruction option which she says left her with only small scars. Her cancer risk is slightly higher than mine but I am sure her results are more aesthetic than mine were pre-ink. Sharon had implants removed and I don’t know if she’s replaced them or not.
I’ll discuss why prophylaxis IS a reasonable way of dealing with cancer in another post, K?
Yup, That is the message I got from my friend Simon. He said he was monitoring news stories on the US budget situation and saw my picture on the Huffington Post. It must have been a slow news day! Now that the shock of running into my pictures in odd places is over I am marveling at how positive 99% of the reaction has been to them. Good thing, too. I also have to marvel that all these news companies have had to confront their own policies in order to post or print the pictures. Can’t you just hear the same conversation going on in each conference room, “Is it nudity?” ” No, it is a public service.” or “No, it is art.” and on and on. 🙂
We seem to have stumbled into a full-blown controversy. I feel like I missed most of it but people appear to have been accusing Facebook of censoring the tattoo photo. Russ Bowen of KOMO News 4 contacted me about a censorship issue this morning and I told him that I had not posted the photo nor was I aware of its having been removed.
He did some investigative reporting and called the tattoo shop in Ontario whose Facebook page has been supposedly affected. The shop owner said Facebook has not touched the photo and has assured him it has no intention of doing so. Scott adds: The good news is that Inga and Tina’s work is getting out to more people than ever and is hopefully giving hope to those who need it most. */:-)
later that day: Facebook did remove the photo deciding that it did violate policy
and later that week: Facebook rethought their policy on mastectomy tattoos (see later posts)
My photo on the Custom Tattoo Design’s Facebook page stats as of 5:38 pm 2/20/13:
184,181 others like this.
Here are a few news sources that seem to be reporting directly off the newsfeed. Here is one headline:
I got a surprise recently when I spotted pictures of my tattoo on pinterest. Scott posted pictures of it on his blog years ago and apparently the tattoo has taken on a life of its own. It has been pinned nearly 500 times and is linked on as many websites. Since that many people are being exposed to it, I guess it is time that I moved the pictures to my own blog and wrote its story myself. I’ll keep this post short but I’ll move it to a “breast cancer” tab and keep adding to it as I go.
I have had so many positive comments from women about how much my art has helped them to come to terms with their bodies and their scars that I want this to be a more permanent resource that people can refer their friends to and revisit as they wish. I promise to get some professional pictures done along the way as well.
Because we have the good fortune to have a wonderful house sitter, we were able to take the dogs camping this weekend. We like Olympia Campground because it is wooded and close to where we keep Chinook, our boat. We don’t plan dog activities as such, they just lie around, chase pinecones, beg snacks, bark at stuff, really the same things they do at home but it is more fun because they are outside. I spend most of my time inside, this trip I’ve been working on my tattoo-story that I’ll have posted soon. I took a break this morning for some exercise, left Scott and the dogs at the campsite and drove to the state Capitol to walk the trail that circles Capitol Lake. It is partly paved, partially gravelled and busy without feeling crowded. However, it was crowded enough that the only blackberries that were ripe were too far away to reach. All the easy to reach vines were picked clean. I did see lots of tiny ducklings but I am bummed that they don’t show up in the photo, sorry about that. I made an extra loop downtown to lengthen the walk a bit and then stopped at Taco Del Mar to bring home tasty vegan burritos for lunch, yum!