SILVERDALE — For women with breast cancer, the disease typically means surgery. Those mastectomies can mean scars, often painful reminders of how things once were, and how they are different now.
Some Silverdale tattoo artists Monday worked to give three women a chance to see something other than visual reminders of what they've gone through.
Tattoo guns buzzed at Stronghold Tattoos in conjunction with efforts throughout the state and across the country thanks to P.ink, a charity that pairs cancer survivors with artists. The two collaborate on a design to cover up the scars, and the artist gets to work.
For Cindy Abaay-Lugo, of Bremerton, who underwent a double mastectomy after her 2015 diagnosis, the art was about reclaiming her body. The colorful designs that now adorn her chest gave her a bit of control amid the surprises and forced decisions that come with cancer.
"This is a way for you to reconnect to your own body and ... say, 'Yeah, this is what I want.'"
Monday was part of the healing process.
"I can look in the mirror and not cringe, and smile instead of seeing all the scars," Abaay-Lugo said.
Three women received the donated tattoos locally, while six others received the tattoos throughout the state. In total, 57 women received free tattoos across the country as part of this year's effort.
"When I study (my breasts) and I see that they're a little bit misshapen, I feel a little bit sad," said Jessica Jones, of Bremerton. She underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed in 2010. "Being able to see artwork on them, to make them more beautiful ..."
"... It's a scar you choose," Jones' tattoo artist, Krystin Jones, of Silverdale, said, finishing her thought.
Jones' design featured a flowery arrangement with daisies and daffodils, representing the birth months of her children.
For Suzanne Blais, of Bellingham, Monday was about showing off an intense desire to live, as evidenced by the intricate dragon that now sits where her left breast had been. Blais was diagnosed in 2015 and had her breast removed not long after.
"For me," she said with tears welling in her eyes, "it was a choice to be fierce and live and just not worry so much about trading in a body part."
"It provides closure that I never got," she said.
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