Diane, could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your journey?

I was 29 years old when I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is the earliest stage of breast cancer but because of the extent of disease, I required a mastectomy.

How did you learn about P.ink ?

I knew I wanted a mastectomy tattoo before learning about Personal Ink; however, I was overwhelmed at the idea of finding a tattoo studio and artist that I could trust, and was surprised at the cost of tattoos (having never gotten one previously), so I postponed getting it done. I learned about P.ink through the Facebook page of a breast cancer support group I had been involved with. After watching a video about the inspiration for P.ink, Molly Ortwein, I immediately reached out to the group. Because I had the support of P.ink, the process of getting a tattoo was much less stressful than I imagine it would have been had I not had the support of a network that had already done the work to find highly skilled, experienced and compassionate artists.

What was the reaction of your friends and family when you told them that you were getting tattooed?

Other than my husband, I told no one about the tattoo until it was done. Upon seeing the tattoo, my family, friends, and doctors have all had hugely positive reactions. I’ve also heard a lot of excitement over the tattoo from people on social media and through word of mouth. I think what people love is the abstract yet refined, black & white design, the credit for which goes 100% to the artist, Roxx, owner of 2 Spirit Tattoo in Santa Monica, California.

How did you choose your design?

Roxx specializes in black work and geometric design and I was drawn to her work the moment I saw it. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I wanted for my own design. I told Roxx that the image of a dove had brought me peace through my surgeries but that I also wanted a tattoo that conveyed strength. The result is a powerful interpretation of the wing of a dove and I loved it as soon as I saw the first sketch.


Tell us about the day you got your tattoo. It must have been such an emotional moment!

I got my tattoo through Personal Ink’s inaugural event called P.ink Day, which is an annual, all-volunteer effort to provide mastectomy scar tattoos to survivors, as well as to draw attention to Personal Ink’s movement and to mastectomy tattoos in general. Every single person involved in a P.ink Day donates their time and services, from the hosting studio to the artists, planners, leaders, creative and administrative staff, catering services and day volunteers. These people are guided by the overarching motivation to give breast cancer survivors a very unique and positive experience. I felt so much love in the room that day as 10 of us were simultaneously tattooed by the staff and artist friends of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York.

That said, Personal Ink’s work goes beyond one day of each year. P.ink is a resource for mastectomy tattoo information and inspiration. P.ink’s website and social channels offer design ideas, details about mastectomy tattoo artists around the world, and stories from women sharing their own mastectomy tattoo experiences. P.ink wants women to feel empowered to take this process into their own hands and makes that easier for them by providing these tools, as well as an app that allows you to virtually “try on” a tattoo design.

How did getting tattooed change your relationship with your body? 

The tattoo had an immediate effect on me in that it took my attention away from my mastectomy scar, which I did not like looking at. I immediately felt more confident and more at peace with everything I had been through. I was able to finally move on.

Tattoo artist: Roxx, owner at 2 Spirit Tattoo in Santa Monica, California

Tattoo photo: Gigi Stoll, Gigi Stoll Photography