CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This breast cancer awareness month, a new local non-profit wants to make survivors aware of another option to help with mastectomy scarring.
The Inked Phoenix Project is a nonprofit that helps pay for breast cancer survivors to get mastectomy tattoos.
The organization's founder, Kirsten Michaud said the body art is a way to help some survivors during the healing process.
“You have doctors telling you what treatment to have, what pills to take, what surgery to have and it really takes a piece of you...I was trying to find an option that was going to make me feel whole again and I came across mastectomy tattoos,” said the Inked Phoenix Project Founder Kirsten Michaud. Michaud said she got the tattoos to transform her mastectomy scars into art. "I felt confident again and I wanted to be able to help other women through that,” said Michaud. But Michaud said the tattoos can cost from $800 to $1800 and for many survivors who are already facing financial hardships, the price can be a deterrent.
So she started the Inked Phoenix Project to help with the cost and to connect survivors with tattoo artists. "I realized how important it is that you find a tattoo artist that you connect with because you spend so much time in such an emotional state with them," said Michaud.
Ike Trimboli, a tattoo artist who works out of the Infamous Tattoo Studio told WBTV he has experience covering scars, but Michaud was his first mastectomy tattoo.
Since then, he's worked with several survivors. "I've had clients who say I would've never thought I'd get a tattoo in a million years. And they thought it was very taboo and then they came across the project or even mastectomy tattoos and its like woo I want that,” said Trimboli. "I know the scars are still there, they'll always be there. I still see them. But I don't focus on them. I focus on the beauty that the tattoo has given me now," said Michaud. Michaud said after her reconstructive surgeries she was never told that mastectomy tattoos were an option for her scars. She wanted to change that for other survivors.
The Inked Phoenix Project also helps fund scar tattoos for veteran’s battle scars.