Years ago, tattoo artist David Allen was approached by a client with an unusual request. Adriana had fought breast cancer and won, but she had to undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She asked Allen to conceal the scarring left on her breast using his skills as a tattoo artist. What followed was a journey for both Adriana and David, one that would change both of their lives.
As he describes it, “I’ll never forget meeting Adriana and connecting instantly. I wasn’t sure how to be. I knew just a portion of her story and my heart was heavy…Somehow I realized she was taking care of me before I had a chance to do the same. Maybe she sensed my concern, so her response was to allay my nerves. She showed me love and I knew only to do the same.
“How do you help a woman who has fought death? What can you possibly contribute?
“I knew then all I had was my vision, my eye. Years of passion towards one visual goal had me prepared. She was there and vulnerable… ready and willing to trust my view. The weight was incredible, but together we created a work of art. Her scar was concealed, but more importantly, she took back control. I’ll never forget it. What was clinical became beautiful again… we turned sterile into sensual. We took back control.
“There is healing in this.
“It was wonderfully overwhelming. The whole process was stunning. That day I was changed more than she. The process is difficult. It requires trust and vulnerability on both sides. But it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve given myself to… well, besides being a father.”
While Allen is currently booked for normal tattoos, he’s always looking for new clients he can help who have scars they wish to conceal. He takes on two projects per month and he typically uses floral or organic designs for these specialized tattoos.
There are other tattoo artists who perform similar procedures, many of which you can find at the website P.INK. The company’s goal is to connect breast cancer survivors with tattoo artists who have experience in working with scarring associated with mastectomies. Here’s their mission: “Breast cancer sucks. Even if you survive, it ravages your body, complicates relationships, and leaves permanent, uninvited marks. We think that covering these scars with a different kind of mark–a tattoo–can not only help mastectomy patients reclaim their scarred bodies, but also turn something painful into something beautiful. Our goal is to connect survivors with tattoo artists–two disparate communities that seem (to us) naturally allied.”