I read an article on Jezebel.com (note that the link includes photos that are NSFW) this week about 3D nipple tattoos. I clicked through to the tattoo artist’s website (also NSFW), and the work he does is truly astounding. He tattoos nipples on women who have undergone a mastectomy, and the results are shockingly realistic. He even includes Montgomery glands (those little bumps on the areola) and shadow, so they really look three-dimensional.

I’ve actually had cancer on the mind a lot lately. My mother is currently undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. It was found very early. Her prognosis is, thankfully, as good as you can get. There was surgery, but there will be no chemo and little likelihood of further surgery. However, she’s young enough that this is not the kind of cancer you inevitably get if you live long enough; it’s the genetic kind that can repeat in your offspring.

So I’ve become somewhat concerned for my and my sister’s cancer prospects in the future. I’m actually looking forward to my next gynecologist visit so I can ask her questions about preventive care. And maybe this is shallow, but it’s also gotten me thinking about how I would feel if I ever have to get a mastectomy. Darlene’s last post (Do You Own Your Boobs?) really hit home for me; so much of my identity at this point in my life is tied up in my body, and my breasts in particular.

I really love my boobs, and after years of struggling with shopping, I now relish the times when I find something that really flatters (and when nothing fits? Eh, I’m over it). I definitely feel that I “own them.” I don’t feel ashamed of my (usually unavoidable) cleavage, since it’s hardly my fault that most major brands and stores refuse to cater to an hourglassy figure, and I deserve to wear the things I like just as much as smaller-busted women.

I simply can’t imagine living in a body any different than the one I’ve got. Because I tend to gain and lose in my breasts and hips, even my exercise regimen’s goal is not to lose weight, but just to keep my current weight steady and be healthy (and give myself room to indulge once in a while!).

Have any of you had a mastectomy and/or post-mastectomy reconstruction? How did you feel about your breasts before and after? Anyone with post-mastectomy tattoos? (Here’s a great, if brief, article about those.)