Cos­metic tat­too­ing helps breast can­cer sur­vivors

Hamilton News - - HEALTH -

A Waikato woman who has over­come two types of can­cer is giv­ing back by help­ing other women who have bat­tled breast can­cer.

As the founder of Lady Ink Cos­metic Tat­too­ing, Deb­bie

Cas­son helps women who have been through breast re­con­struc­tion surgery for breast can­cer, by per­form­ing cos­metic nip­ple tat­too­ing — some­thing she says helps give women their self­es­teem and con­fi­dence back af­ter a tough jour­ney.

Around 2800 New Zealand women and 20 men are di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer ev­ery year. As a can­cer sur­vivor, Deb­bie wants to help raise aware­ness this Oc­to­ber for breast can­cer aware­ness month.

She was di­ag­nosed with two forms of can­cer in 2012, a rare type of si­nus can­cer and just days later breast can­cer. She un­der­stands the emo­tions of what cos­metic nip­ple tat­too­ing can mean to a woman af­ter un­der­go­ing breast re­con­struc­tion.

Deb­bie is one of the three trus­tees of Shock­ing Pink, a na­tion­wide charity for women di­ag­nosed with can­cer, aged 45 and younger. Be­ing a part of Shock­ing Pink is what led her to train in cos­metic tat­too­ing.

Talk­ing to the women within the group, she re­alised how fi­nan­cially out of reach it was to get are­ola tat­too­ing done af­ter they’d had breast can­cer.

As part of her train­ing she also learnt to do eye­brows, eye­liner and lips, as chemo­ther­apy can of­ten re­sult in loss of eye­brows and hair.

“There is some­times a need for cos­metic eye­brow tat­too­ing af­ter treat­ment as they don’t al­ways grow back. Women then think about lips and eye lin­ers as their treat af­ter­wards as well,” Deb­bie said.

The nip­ple repig­men­ta­tion and 3D nip­ple cos­metic tat­too­ing ser­vice that Deb­bie of­fers helps post-mas­tec­tomy pa­tients by cre­at­ing the ap­pear­ance of an are­ola af­ter nip­ple re­con­struc­tion, or a 3D nip­ple can be cre­ated by shad­ing with pig­ments giv­ing the 3D ef­fect.

“It gives me so much joy see­ing the dif­fer­ence it makes in women’s lives and it makes me want to carry on do­ing what I’m do­ing,” Deb­bie said.

For her clients, know­ing that Deb­bie is a sur­vivor her­self and has been where they are, helps them feel more re­laxed when they come in and tell their story to her.

Breast can­cer sur­vivor Emer­ald Reid said Deb­bie has changed her life in a huge way with such a small pro­ce­dure.

“It has had an un­be­liev­able im­pact on my con­fi­dence, my out­look on life, and feel­ing like a true sur­vivor now. Af­ter five years of surgery and chemo, I feel like I’ve fi­nally got to the end of a can­cer jour­ney and I was able to end it on a high note,” Emer­ald said. “I knew it would make a dif­fer­ence get­ting it done but I un­der­es­ti­mated just how much and how emo­tional it would be the first glance that I took. I was blown away with how re­al­is­tic they look and how much more com­plete I felt as a woman. My part­ner can’t be­lieve how great they look and has com­mented on how much hap­pier I am ev­ery day — I feel like I’m now just a nor­mal 35-year-old girl liv­ing her best life.”

Last year a con­tract be­tween the Waikato DHB, Tris­tram Clinic and Deb­bie was es­tab­lished to help fund this ser­vice for more breast can­cer sur­vivors.

The con­tract is a huge step for­ward as some DHBS still don’t fund the pro­ce­dure, Deb­bie says.

To in­quire about Deb­bie’s ser­vices at Lady Ink con­tact your spe­cial­ist for a re­fer­ral. In­sur­ance will also cover the pro­ce­dure.

Deb­bie Cas­son

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