A Journey from Breast Cancer to Body Art

In simple words, abnormal and unrestrained cell division and cell growth in one’s breast is called breast cancer. This happens when certain mutative and unnatural changes take place in the genes which control cell growth and keeps the cells healthy.
Women have a greater risk of developing this kind of cancer. The more unpleasant part is one out of nine women can have breast cancer. In most cases it’s the women above the age of 50; yet in other cases, age does not even matter. Though men too can fall prey to this disease, the cases are rare.
The treatment firstly is done with surgery. Mastectomy (removal of the entire breast), Quadrantectomy (removal of one-quarter of breast tissue), and Lumpectomy (removal of a breast lump) are the three types of surgeries done. Adjuvant therapy is applied with drugs /medications with surgery. Certain antibodies, hormone-blocking agents and chemotherapy come under the medications here.
Chemotherapy is done post surgery. Radiation therapy can also be a part of the post-surgery treatment, with or without chemo.
Body Art and Breast Cancer
When surgical procedures are applied to remove a part of, one-quarter of, or the whole breast of a cancer patient to save her/his life, the experience leaves the patients scarred. After their breast amputations, not only in physical level, mentally too these cancer survivors struggle to get back their self. This phase of struggle is not easy, and it takes a lot of time and strength for them to come back to their normal lives. For some, after surgery, life never returns to normal like before. Post surgery many women feel, their body’s most feminine feature has been affected, and their beauty and attractiveness has been reduced.
Surgeries for breast reconstruction are available today, but such procedures are costly and lengthy. The problems are, sometimes the operations are not successful, and the new breast constructed doesn’t exactly look like the previous natural breast one had.
The cancer survivors don’t want to be pitied; they want others to realise that it’s their victory that they have survived; they have won.
Therefore, today more and more survivors choose body art like tattooing and painting the operated areas of their breast or whole body. This helps them in reviving their selves and empowers them in reclaiming the lost.
For most breast cancer survivors, the reason for avoiding reconstruction surgeries is not because it’s costly or lengthy. They just do not want to completely erase the impacts cancer had on them, in a negative as well as positive way. These brave women don’t wish to hide their scars after their amputations because these scars become a part of their struggle fighting cancer. Instead, they want to beautify them for life. Tattoo is a form of body art that makes it possible.
So many women choose to tattoo and not breast reconstruction, as they want to express their struggle through art and not hide it with another surgery. And it needs a lot of bravery to convert such a loss, like a breast amputation, into a piece of art.
For ordinary people, tattooing is an excellent way to cover the surgery marks and scars on one’s breast after amputations. However, after getting the tattoos, cancer survivors take it more like a liberating experience than a mere cover. Tattoo art in their bodies works as a therapy for them and heals them in every respect.
It’s always hard for these women to take the first step towards tattooing. So many questions and safety issues bother them initially. Therefore it’s good to consult the concerned physician before one decides to tattoo themselves.
The tattoos are created carefully and exclusively for each woman (cancer survivor), expressing their personality, interests, nature and the story of struggle fighting cancer.
Today many tattooists are available, who are specialized in tattooing cancer survivors. There are also few tattoo artists who contact the cancer survivors who are willing to tattoo their scars and breast parts where the surgery took place.
For these survivors, it’s not about cancer anymore; it’s about converting one’s scars into art, expression and sensuality.
Body art via paintings is another therapeutic way the breast cancer survivors reclaim their bodies and femininity they might have lost.
Though such surgeries or breast amputations can never take away a woman’s femininity, it’s all about what one feels, and you can’t control that. It takes a lot of will-power and courage to rebuild and take control of one’s self-image.
Nevertheless, today women (survivors) come forward and get painted. Inspiring cancer survivors from diverse backgrounds, and different shapes, sizes and ages, take part in various body art projects.
For a lot of people body art via painting is a mode of creating cancer awareness. In many places, artists and cancer survivors together carry out activities and projects with the intention of raising funds for causes related to breast cancer. This shows how empowering art can be.
The primary motive of body art via paintings is to tell the world about one’s experience with breast cancer, which includes her fears, thoughts, emotional breakdowns, moments when they gathered courage, and numerous other moods.
In the case of paintings, methods, like airbrushing and painting with hands, are applied. Theme based paintings are very familiar here. Art with deep and dark themes, art with optimistic and light themes, and art with inspiring themes are commonly seen. Some choose unique themes like genetics, early detection, etc.
Once the artists complete the paintings, photos are taken. The images are then uploaded into a computer and with the help of the editing tools extraordinary and powerful images are created via which inspiring messages are spread.
Before going for body art, the cancer survivors must take permission from their doctors or medical team for the same. Also, it’s critical for them to wait till their surgery scar heals completely.

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