Women who underwent painful mastectomies get inked by high-end tattooists

Saved by the tattoo: Breast cancer survivors mark their time alive with body art

The Brooklyn Paper
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Breast cancer survivors from across the country traveled to Williamsburg on Monday to have their breasts tattooed and cover the scars left by painful cancer surgeries.

The 10 participating women, all of whom have undergone mastectomies and only some of whom had follow-up breast reconstruction surgery, were flown out by the founders of P-ink, an organization that helps former patients of the dread disease get ink. The ladies who went under the gun said that being permanently adorned with artwork of their choosing has given them a new lease on life and their bodies.

“The tattoo gives us power, and gives us something beautiful that’s ours,” said Charisse Reeder, who came from her home in California to have a dolphin splashed across her chest.

An organizer says that tattooing is part of the process of getting back to normal while also memorializing the days, months, and years lost to doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy, and recovering from breast removal surgery.

“The ultimate goal is to give the survivor access to someone who can do the work” and to get help “defining what breast cancer looks like” on their terms, said Noel Franus, the founder of P-ink.

For Reeder, the result was a mission accomplished.

“I’ve gone as far as I can go with medical procedures, ” she said. “The tattoo is something I’ve picked out, so it’s personal to me.”

Fulner and his colleagues raised over $20,000 for the event through the online fund-raising web site Indiegogo and connected the 10 women with top-of-the-line body art at Williamsburg’s Saved Tattoo on Union Avenue.

“These are the best artists we could find,” Franus said.

Based on the reactions of the participants, the artwork they wore away from Saved Tattoo was priceless.

“I came home from New York, took a shower, looked in the mirror, and I was so happy,” said Mari Ruddy, a two-time breast cancer survivor from Minnesota. “Like, ‘This is beautiful.’ ”

Several participating survivors complained that the reconstructive surgery available through their insurance companies was unsatisfactory, if was available at all, and, whether they ultimately went through the procedures or not, they agreed that body art was an affirming alternative.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
This headline is misleading...tattoos do not cure cancer.
Oct. 25, 2013, 8:54 am
Linda Melonchest from Hootersberry Park, Virginia says:
Excuse me "Joey from Clinton Hills", but what does a man know about being a woman??? You want to wage war on women, and you don't even have a uterus. I hate when you and the government decide what I can or can't do with my body - like using drugs or wearing seatbelts!!!
Oct. 25, 2013, 10:25 am
Charisse says:
SAVED refers to the tattoo shop that opened their doors to us.

SAVED TATTOO IN BROOKLYN. Read the whole article
No tattoos don't cure cancer. But as one of the survivors blesed to be at this event with caring , loving people was not only emotionally healing but an honor.
Oct. 25, 2013, 10:46 pm
ridgette from ridge says:
what the hell is marissa complaining about??
Oct. 26, 2013, 10:14 am
oldtime brooklyn from slope says:
well it would appear that the spouse of a survivor has no say. genderist politics just paints you into a corner you want to get out of. my wife ran awareness groups 20 years ago so please do not go knee jerk.
Oct. 26, 2013, 2:57 pm
Virginia Harris from Washington Heights says:
If a woman's breasts fall of from cancer, does she really want a tattoo to remind her?
Oct. 26, 2013, 5:30 pm

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