The Icing on the Cupcake
After a 14-month journey through bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, tissue expanders, implant exchange surgery, nipple reconstruction, lymphedema and physical therapy for shoulder tendonitis—I was DONE. The LAST thing I wanted was a two-hour tattoo session with more needles. Yuck!
To my surprise, that two-hour session was pain-free and was actually thebest experience of them all. It signified the END of my long journey, and allowed me to verbalize the words, “I am DONE!”
I was not prepared for my reaction when I first saw my tattoos reflected in the full-length mirror. The simple analogy that kept coming to mind was that they were “the icing on the cake.” Cupcake is more appropriate—the icing on the cupcake! Just like the Katy Perry California Gurls cupcakes! (Click the link to chuckle with us, lol.)
“Oh my God, they look real!” I shrieked. “I can’t believe how natural they look. Even the scars are less noticeable because of the focal point of the tattoo!”
And then I began to cry.
I cried as I absorbed and accepted the fact that this was the END of what had been a long, scary road. I remember walking on that road in a fog, but forging ahead—putting one step in front of the other—doing whateverhad to be done.
I was determined to win the cancer battle and never allowed myself to get pulled off course by negative energy. I have never been one to feel sorry for myself. Instead, I have focused on the love and support of family and friends.
FAITH and HOPE…“just do it and get on with it” was my mantra.
My approach to the nipple tattoo procedure was different. It was easy to put it off. I was busy, and it was not a medical necessity or a lifesaving mandate.
It was the first ELECTIVE procedure of the reconstructive process. I had the freedom to decide if I wanted to do this for ME!
It would have been a big mistake if I had denied myself this last procedure, and I believe it would be a mistake for any other woman as well. Anyone who has had a mastectomy and reconstruction and thinks nipple tattoos are insignificant…please reconsider.
My tattooed nipples have helped me reconnect with the joy of living. I feel myself again! I feel sexy again!
Have you put off the final steps of your reconstruction? Have you trivialized the steps it would take to feel more complete?
(Bilateral Mastectomy 2009; Expander Exchange 2010; Nipple Reconstruction, 2010; Areola Pigmentation, 2010)
Valeri Parker, RN
Valeri is a registered nurse and a licensed medical aesthetician (skin care therapist) who has a deep commitment to the healing arts. Drawing from her firsthand experience during chemotherapy, she counsels others with chemo-related skin conditions, hair loss and make-up challenges.
Valeri currently is a staff member at the Elizabeth Roche MD Medspa in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, where her services (aside from those mentioned above) include photo rejuvenation for the treatment of vascular and other skin imperfections, skin tightening, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal and a variety of skin peels and specialty facials.
Valeri’s career included developing and directing a medical spa for a prominent plastic surgeon, as well as previous experience in home health nursing and hospice care. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in community health from Adelphi University.
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