Breast Cancer Survivor Turns Mastectomy Scars into Beautiful Tattoos of Empowerment

Breast cancer survivor Dana Donofree is transforming her battle scars into beautiful works of art–one meaningful tattoo at a time.

Five years ago, just a day before her birthday and two months before her wedding, Donofree was diagnosed with infiltrative ductal carcinoma, a common form of breast cancer. She postponed her wedding and spent the next year recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and a grueling regimen of chemotherapy.

Donofree had a hard time coming to terms with her altered physical appearance, especially with the removal and reconstruction of her breasts. “I really had a hard time finding myself again after cancer,” she told NY Daily News “My hair was gone, my eyebrows were gone, my eyelashes were gone…and these fake boobs had taken the place of my natural breasts.”

Now, at age 33, Donofree has grown to love and appreciate her body, thanks in part to a series of tattoos illustrating her breast cancer story from beginning to end. One tattoo, a cherry blossom tree stretching from one breast to another, celebrates her “tree of life.” An inked lotus flower symbolizing rebirth covers her port scar left over from chemotherapy. And finally, her “wings of life” represent her brave journey for her and her husband.

“I felt whole again,” Donofree admitted in a statement to Mashable, about the significance of getting her tattoos. “I felt like I did something for myself…not because it was what my doctors told me I had to do. I took back control. And that was what made me feel like myself. It was something I wanted to do, and something that made me celebrate where I had been and what I had been though. I was absolutely empowered.”

Currently, the inspiring woman runs her own lingerie company called AnaOno, which designs, constructs, and sells bras for women who have had breast cancer surgeries. Regular bras, Donofree explains, usually don't fit the chests of women who have had mastectomies. Her line of intimates, in contrast, will help breast cancer survivors feel comfortable in their own bodies, much like how her own decisions have made her the strong person she is today.

“What's on the outside is purely cosmetic,” she told Mashable. “If you don't like something, change it and move on from it. Don't give it the power to rule over you.”

Above photo credit: Nikki Riley Photography

Photo credit: Nikki Riley Photography

Photo credit: Tracey Birdsell Photography

Photo credit: Nikki Riley Photography

Dana Donofree: AnaOno's website
via [Mashable]

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