I was approached in 2012 to do a bra on a survivor named Shari. At first I treated it like any other tattoo- working with the design challenges, moving with body lines and complex curves. As I worked on Shari and got to know her, I began to understand the affects of breast cancer. When finished I knew it was much more that just any other tattoo. It was special. I had no idea how much it would change her life and mine.
My years of stenciling prepared me to be able to pattern something this difficult. It also prepared me to work with clients with emotional as well as physical scars. It takes a lot of patience to stencil and re-stencil. Find symmetry and balance where there is none left. The survivors I work on are each very unique in their scars as well as their backgrounds. What I hear the most is how afraid they are to show their bodies or even look in the mirror.
When I finish working on these warriors, I don’t even need to hear their words, I can always see the jubilation in their eyes, faces and body language. Being able to change a person’s life and the way the feel about themselves is powerful and rewarding. I love to tattoo and make people happy, but to change a life is immeasurable.