Yes, Valeri is spelled without the “e,” honoring her Italian heritage. Her parents conceived her in Rome just prior to immigrating to America 58 years ago.
Valeri reflected further as she got the first glimpse of her nipple tattoos in the mirror. “I just can’t believe how this makes me feel. I feel sexy again! Even the scars are less visible because there is a bolder focal point!”
She briefly wept as she was moved by the significance of that moment. “Do you believe that it has been exactly one year and one week since my mastectomy? You don’t understand…I had nothing” she lamented as she motioned to her chest, which now sported a gorgeous pair of fake boobs with freshly tattooed nipples. (See the photos of her areola pigmentation procedure.)
Valeri’s optimal results were a vision to behold, especially from my perspective as someone needing breast revision (surgical refinements) following my reconstruction. This celebration was hard-earned, nonetheless, for Valeri.
It had been a tough journey. Bitter divorce one year; her mother’s death and triple negative breast cancer the next. The to-do list followed: bilateral mastectomy, breast reconstruction with the expander process, chemotherapy, loss of hair, nipple reconstruction, and areola pigmentation. Oh, yeah, and then get back to dating. Whew!
The dating scene after mastectomy…not exactly the playing field you would choose. It is hard enough getting your game back in your late 50s after the failure of a quarter-century marriage, never mind after losing your breasts. But when Valeri proceeded to find a man who desired to re-boot her sexuality – even before she realized she was ready- it was full steam ahead to complete her process with nipple tattoos.
“I have to get my tattoos sooner than later,” she declared when she called one night to coordinate our schedules. We had already photographed her nipple reconstruction and I was invited to document this next procedure. “It will be one week from Tuesday.”
“My date and I actually got into a close embrace and I was dying, Elizabeth.” she told me. “I just said I was not ready yet, but I really wanted to continue. The intimacy felt so soothing,” she cooed.
“But how do I tell him?” she pondered.
What would you say? Does anyone have advice for Valeri? Have you dated after breast reconstruction with someone who did not know your story? How did you know when to have the conversation and revealyourself?
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