Mastectomies save lives of women with cancer but they can also have implications on self esteem and body image.
One tattoo artist is hoping to make women who’ve had their breast tissue removed feel beautiful in their skin again. Samantha Rae Carniato, from Vancouver Island, Canada, has helped to transform women’s bodies since 2014, adorning their areola with intricate tattoos. ‘My first encounter with a mastectomy client was while I was an airbrush body painter,’ explained Samantha. ‘For some people, this was the first time they could look past their scars or their cancer.
‘My first tattoo design over mastectomy scars was in 2014, which was a filigree design with cherry blossoms cupping the side of each breast, and a soft hummingbird over her port scar on her left upper chest. ‘Working with scar tissue and radiated skin while illustrating realism is a big challenge, but I was ready to embrace it.
‘In my experience, everyone arrives with a wildly unique history, although I recognise a lot of similarities in my clients’ journeys. ‘Some have partners who are there every step of the way, some go through separation and divorce and have to fully start their lives again.
Some people stay very jovial and know they will get through with a positive attitude, but some suffer from body dysmorphia and severe mental and emotional lows. ‘For the most part, I hear stories of relief, closure, and beauty once their tattoo dreams have been realised.’
Samantha says drawing these designs on women’s bodies gives them a new lease on life. Clients have said that the tattoos changed their lives and brought back their confidence. Others have said that the tattoos help them be able to look in the mirror again.
As a result of her interactions with these women, Samantha has become interested in women’s charities and breast cancer awareness campaigns. She’s lost people close to her as a result of cancer and is especially passionate about helping survivors live better, happier lives. ‘The tattoos are a celebration of one or more years being cancer-free,’ she says. ‘Finally, it can be about having control over a decision after having your life altered completely by cancer. ‘Tattoos present a new start, closure and a happy dance across the finish line of cancer’