Alberta artists helping breast cancer survivors overcome loss using tattoos
EDMONTON -- When Leah Jans was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, she said she lost her sense of self.
“It’s like losing a part of your identity,” said Jans.
She decided to have a treatment related scar covered up by a medical tattoo.
“Having this was kind of like a celebration. Part of finishing my journey,” she said.
Kacie Rainey and Carmelina Baccari are the women behind the medical tattoos.
“I found my purpose,” said Baccari. “It feels amazing. I love doing what I do,” she added.
“We do heart work we call it,” said Rainey.
Both women have been touched by cancer. Baccari is also a survivor and Rainey lost her father to the disease when she was young. Experiences they use in their work with breast cancer survivors.
“When we add even that first touch of colour, the area starts to look alive,” said Rainey.
In addition to covering scars, the tattooists have gained a reputation for the hyper-realistic nipple-areola tattoos they perform on women who’ve had mastectomies.
“Something has been taken away from you. Even though other people can’t see that it’s not there and you have clothes on, we know it’s gone,” Baccari said.
“One hundred per cent worth it,” said Jamila Moloo, a breast cancer survivor and client.
Her treatment included a double mastectomy.
“You never know if it really is over and you’re always kind of worrying and looking over your shoulder and wondering if it’s going to come back again,” Moloo said.
For some of their clients, the tattoos help provide closure.
“Having this was kind of like a celebration,” said Jans. “Part of finishing my journey.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Carlyle Fiset.