Breast cancer survivors talk post-surgery tattoos: 'You fall bac - Tucson News Now

Breast cancer survivors talk post-surgery tattoos: 'You fall back in love with yourself'

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A local fitness support program for cancer survivors is showing how tattoos can help restore the body image of those battling breast cancer by addressing their post-surgical scars.

"People over and over have talked to me about once they have mastectomies and they get reconstruction, they feel like they have breasts but they don't," said Anita Kellman, founder of the Beat Cancer Boot Camp.

More than a dozen breast cancer survivors and their loved ones stopped by a Beat Cancer Boot Camp session on Tuesday, June 6, at Udall Park, where the group brought in a Tucson tattoo artist hoping to help survivors weigh their options.

"There really was no one local here in Tucson that was doing this," said Tony Stannard, also known as Tony 4 Fingers of Tucson Art Collective, a tattoo shop based in Marana. "Breast cancer has affected my life with my grandmother, and what better way to give back than by giving my art back to people affected by cancer."

You can learn more about Tucson Art Collective here:

Mastectomy tattoos have become a popular option for those looking to make the transition to a new body easier. Most mastectomies leave scars and remove the nipple/areola. That's when a tattoo artist would simply tattoo a nipple for a more natural look.

"We've gone through all this stuff and you get to the very end and then you have to make a decision on how do you put the little bow on the package?" said Kerri Gideon, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. 

Others go for a more creative way to cover their scars. Laura Lynn, who was also diagnosed in 2015, had a double mastectomy and for her, it's more about beautifying her scars. 

"I'm looking into have a full chest tattoo," she said. "Maybe something like Wonder Woman to celebrate this whole experience and the changes that I've made."

The group hosts boot camp sessions and other informational seminars on a regular basis. You can learn more about them here:

"It's a horrible experience," Gideon said. "But if you keep your attitude positive, you can come out the other side stronger than when you went in."

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