How Tattoos Helped A Breast Cancer Survivor Take Back her Body

"When you have breast cancer, you lose control of your body in so many ways."

When writer and comedian Nikki Black got breast cancer, she felt like she was losing control of her body. A pair of tattoos helped her get it back.

(Some images below may be considered NSFW.)

Black, now 25, was diagnosed in June 2013 and underwent a double mastectomy the next month.

"When you have breast cancer, you lose control of your body in so many ways," Black told The Huffington Post. "I literally lost my breasts, lost feeling in parts of my chest, didn't even get to keep my nipples, had to deal with a different type of pain every day and on top of that, it's an extremely sexualized disease. I had guys asking me what size I was planning on getting, telling me that they would miss the boobs I had. I had somebody tell me I could probably do fetish porn after I recovered."

Black after her mastectomy and reconstruction.
Black after her mastectomy and reconstruction.
Courtesy of Nikki Black

In order to reclaim her body after chemotherapy and surgery, Black decided to get tattoos on her reconstructed breasts.

"Getting the tattoos for me was a way of taking back control of my body," Black said. "I didn't want my pre-cancer body back, but I wanted the body I have to be mine. So many people had put their mark on it, and I wanted to reclaim it."

Courtesy of Nikki Black

Black worked with Holly Fehnet of The Gilded Lily Design to create a meaningful design, incorporating elements of her astrological sign (Pisces) and the koi pond in her mother's backyard where she spent time meditating between cancer treatments.

The result is two heart-shaped tattoos, one on each breast.

Courtesy of Nikki Black

In a blog for xoJane, Black explained: "The tattooing was like therapy, a surgery for the soul."

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