Cancer runs in my family. I lost all grandparents prior to my birth, my mother at age 51, my beloved half-sister, Diana, died of breast cancer at 37, along with my maternal aunt, who died at the age of 53. My breasts were termed “dense” and “lumpy” due to having fibrocystic breasts, so I was checked annually with a diagnostic mammogram beginning at the age of 30. In October 2009, I was at the height of my career as a founder and CEO of a very popular non-profit organization and a single mom to a spirited 12 year old. In October of 2009, I also had my last annual diagnostic mammogram, and as usual, the results were deemed to be normal.
In November of 2009, I felt a pea-sized dense lump in my outer, lower left breast. I just had a feeling this wasn’t normal and began having dreams that I had breast cancer. I went back to the doctor and basically demanded another diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. They said I was fine, but the dreams continued andI knew I wasn’t fine.
I kept pushing and had six diagnostic procedures in all, each becoming more invasive and difficult to schedule (due to the negative diagnoses). As many of you reading this know, one of the most difficult things to deal with is waiting for answers where any kind of cancer is concerned.
Finally, in early April of 2010, I received a call from the surgeon, who explained the diagnosis of DCIS, the reasons why it was so hard to find, and that I would need to undergo a single mastectomy, though I elected to a double. The mastectomy was scheduled to take place three weeks later, which was scary, but knowing I wasn’t crazy and we caught the breast cancer early on gave me a huge sense of relief.
I elected to hold off on the breast reconstruction process due to the increased chance of infection when combining it with the mastectomy. Being a single woman, who had identified herself with beauty to some extent (though always humbly) having no breasts, and especially no nipples was very difficult. Though all women have a different experience, during this time, and also during the breast reconstruction process and related procedures, I did not feel very womanly. I felt blank; incomplete; in transition; between genders (strangely); between chapters of my life; between changes in my values personally, spiritually, professionally and felt confused about what I understood my womanhood to be.
I was mourning my breasts, my sexual freedom, my birthright to breastfeed ever again and at times, my very womanhood. Every time I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror unclothed, my blank canvas was a reminder of all that was lost. My friends and my son were there for me along my journey, and this helped my spirits tremendously.
TataTattoosseededitself in my mind during the dark and challenging times above, but wasn’t seeded in my heart until I could openly discuss my story without it causing negative triggers.
TataTattoos represents my offering of love and support for my sisters in a period of loss, of rebuilding and moving forward into new life chapters. It is my intention and hope that these temporary tattoos will bring you a rekindled spirit of fun, sassiness, feminism and of course…sexiness.