Cancer doesn't care how much money you have, what age you are, where you're from or where you come from. Everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or the other, either through personal experience or through a loved one. Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease and can be especially painful both emotionally and physically.
Breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy may be cancer free but they have physical scars from the surgery and emotional scars that stem from losing a breast (or both breasts). A large number of tattooers have stepped up to the plate to help ease the pain of these women by making them feel beautiful again by inking over their scars.
An organization called P.Ink (Personal Ink) has made it their mission to help cancer survivors find tattoo artists so they can get inked. One of the artists involved in the project, David Allen, explains how one customer made him realize the importance of tattoos like this.
"It was wonderfully overwhelming," Allen says of the work. "The whole process was stunning. That day I was changed more than she. The process is difficult. It requires trust and vulnerability on both sides."
Allen is certainly not alone in the way he feels. Last year we spoke with Kelly Torres about tattooing cancer survivor Deanna Cummaro for this article. Torres and Cummaro worked very closely together to create the tattoo and ended up becoming friends.
“So many women have crossed my path in the last decade that have been diagnosed with breast cancer,” Torres said. “I feel like I have this vehicle to give someone a gift that money can’t buy, it would be great to give a woman a gift so she could feel whole again.”
One thing that we keep coming back to when talking about tattoos is the way that ink is used to tell personal stories. The stories the tattoos in the gallery below are quite profound and they all have one common element—they are about survival.