Breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomies often have a harrowing time with their physical, psychological and emotional healing.
Which is why the recent decision of a Halifax tattoo shop to offer free nipple and areola tattooing to these women is being applauded by the non-profit group Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia.
Newcombes Ink is offering the tattooing, which costs around $200, free of charge because the owners don't believe women should pay for it.
"It is just a cosmetic procedure," shop manager Claire Savard tells The Coast. "But sometimes we all need a little something to feel like ourselves again."
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While the Nova Scotia government covers the cost of reconstructive breast and nipple surgery for mastectomy patients, provincial funding stops short of nipple tattooing, which results in many women paying for the procedure themselves.
"I feel like it's the very least that we can do as a business to try to help someone feel comfortable in their own skin, because that's what we do every day is try to make people's skin what they want to live in," Helena Pelletier, an artist at the studio, tells CBC.
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Yet for some mastectomy survivors, the idea of celebrating victory over breast cancer with newly reconstructed breasts isn't for them.
Those women have opted out of reconstructive breast surgery, and instead tattoo their chests with gorgeous colourful tattoos.
Seattle woman Inga Duncan Thornell made headlines earlier this year for a viral photo of her tattooed chest on Facebook.
And Wendy Duvall of Texas got a pair of lotus blossoms tattooed where her breasts had been removed.