It matters (an open letter to New York State and our Representatives)

Tonight I was afforded the opportunity to help another woman heal. The opportunity to walk with a breast cancer survivor through the last phase of her reconstruction.

A beautiful vibrant woman drove three hours today with her husband to my studio in Western New York. She did this to have me tattoo nipples on her to replace the ones that cancer has taken. She has had enough of surgeries. She came to me from three hours away for my expertise. What is that you ask? I create the illusion of natural nipples for mastectomy patients. It is the last step of a long reconstructive process. It is the final piece that helps make them feel comfortable again.

I will often joke with these women that part of my job is to make them invisible again in a locker room. To blend in. To feel just like everyone else. Nothing worth staring at. Nothing different. Just another woman changing her clothes. The tattoos that I make for them do that. They take away from the scars. These tattoos help heal. These tattoos change lives. These tattoos help women feel sexy again.

You may not think that these things matter, but to more women than you could know – it does. It matters. It makes a difference.

Why am I telling you this? Because as NYS Bill S-1421-2015 stands now and with the colors that are available to me to use under these guidelines – I will be unable to continue with this work. I will be unable to tattoo these women anymore.

The color palettes available are too limited for the subtle color nuances that are necessary to make this process work. With every patient I spend a very long time (often more than an hour) mixing colors and altering them ever so slightly to work and blend on their skin. I will lay out a palette of 19 colors and normally pull from at least 8 for a conventional reconstruction and often 10-12 for a 3d illusion procedure.

Here is the palette that I set up for each and every patient.

tattoo colors in individual ink caps

I know there are a lot of names on the petition. I know you as legislators have a lot on your minds. This Bill may not be that big of a deal to you – but to a lot of us it matters. It matters a lot.

Not for the reasons that you may think, but for reasons that you may have not thought of.

I would like to continue to be able to do this work in my home state. I would like to continue to help women heal. I would like to be a part of that – because it matters. Please keep this in mind when you are reviewing the petitioned changes that the tattoo community is presenting.

It matters.

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For anyone who is curious this is the “after” shot of the pigments that I used. Not a lot of color gone, but more than half of the colors were used. Only a couple of 3cm diameter tattoos – but a whole lot of difference in one woman’s life.

tattoo colors nipple reconstruction tattooing

If you are interested in signing the petition to help our voices be heard it can be found online here: Petition

~ by justteejay on September 18, 2015.

4 Responses to “It matters (an open letter to New York State and our Representatives)”

  1. Looks like a typo in the bill number, it should actually read Bill 1421 (S1421-2015). The wording of this bill needs to be corrected, because “single use” inks would be cost prohibitive to ANY tattoo, not just nipple illusion tattoos.

  2. REALLY IF YOU DO SO MUCH FOR THESE CANCER PATIENTS TO MAKE THEM FEEL BEAUTIFUL AGAIN THEN ITS SAD THAT THIS WILL HAPPEN. IM SORRY. THE WORST CANCER FOR A WOMEN IS A MYSTECTOMY, SHE FEELS LESS THAN PERFECT.

    • I am hoping that they will amend the law before they beginning enforcing it. But if not, it will be very sad for me to not be able to do this kind of work anymore.

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