Tattoo Artist Helps Breast Cancer Survivors Cover Their Port Scars

Cancer

Amy Black has long been dedicated to helping women heal after their breast cancer journeys. She has done many post-mastectomy tattoos at her Richmond, Virginia studio over the years, even starting a nonprofit to help women afford them. There’s another area where she’s also been helping survivors: what to do with their chemo port scars.

A chemo port is a familiar sight to cancer patients. It’s surgically implanted and has a silicon tube that attaches to a vein. This allows for chemo treatments to be delivered into the port rather than with needles. After it’s removed, though, many wonder what to do with the scar that’s left behind.

Among those wondering about her options was Jessica Bourne, who was diagnosed with stage 2-3 triple-negative breast cancer in 2020 at the age of 26.

Of her port, she told NBC12 in Richmond, “You get used to it. It was kind like of part of you, but once it’s removed, it’s, like, what do you do?”

She ended up connecting with Black, hoping to find a way to put her cancer journey behind her. Bourne decided she wanted a black and white jellyfish tattoo over the scar because of the animal’s ability to regenerate. Sitting in the chair and getting it done helped lift a weight off of her.

She says, “I could just feel every pain, every sadness, every anger of me just disappear. It was amazing… I immediately sent the picture to my mom and dad, and they were just like ‘we can tell in your eyes how much better you feel.’ It was just like everything from the past year just disappeared, and I could live again.”

She did need to ask her doctor about the safety of getting a tattoo there, and Black admits that it can be tricky work. That’s because scars have different textures and sizes. They’re also not like regular skin, due to basically being broken down tissue.

Despite the difficulty, Black has been proud to help breast cancer survivors heal since 2010, when she first started doing post-mastectomy tattoos. Women who have a harder time affording it can also get some financial help through her nonprofit Pink Ink Fund.

Black says, “I definitely think it’s a way for them to reclaim their body, their health, their power, their choice. Their ability to choose what they want to do with themselves post-cancer treatment.”

As for Bourne, Black says she’s happy she was able to help someone be able to look down and not be reminded of cancer every day.

To learn more about this story, watch the video from NBC12 below.

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