Alison: My Mastectomy journey

My name is Alison and this is my story to share.

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. Although having no family history she was tested for the BRCA gene and discovered she carried the BRCA 1 gene, knowing this I opted to get tested as I had a 50% chance that I would carry it and also tested positive to having the gene.

For me it was an easy decision to make, I was told I had an 80% chance I would get breast cancer as well as a higher risk of ovarian cancer, having a double mastectomy would reduce my risk to 5%.

I had seen what my sister had gone through with cancer turning her life upside and having to go through, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a number of operations.

Being in my 30’s it was not an easy process to go through losing an important part of your body. The operation was a big operation and I spent three days in hospital and a good few months to fully recover. It went well and I was pleased with the reconstruction. The healing process was both physical and mental and took time. I did lose self-confidence and body confidence, yet at the same time I kept reminding myself why I chose to do it.

During my consultations and after the operation I was offered areola tattoos from the NHS. For the first couple of years, I felt my scars were too large to think about it and decided it wasn’t something I wanted to do at that moment in time. I had also seen a number of photos during my consultations, and they were mainly of older women and I didn’t feel inspired by what I had seen to get my areola tattoos.

Last year and quite by chance a friend had shared the work of the amazing Tanya Buxton. I couldn’t quite believe how incredible her work was. I contacted Tanya and booked in a consultation to see her. Covid did not make it quite so easy as we had to cancel and rearrange a number of appointments! I went to see Tanya in her studio, having never had a tattoo it was a new experience. From the moment I met Tanya she put me at ease and made the situation and the final part of my journey more enjoyable than I could have imagined.

During my first consultation she showed me her work and what she could do for me, I was blown away and amazed by this incredible ladies talent and her passion to help women who have been through cancer, reconstruction or just preventative surgery like myself. My areola tattoos were completed in just two sessions. I was slightly nervous as I had never had a tattoo before.

Tanya is so professional, and after seeing photos of what she had done I put my trust in her and let her guide me as to the shape and size! The tattooing process was not as painful as I expected, we chatted all the way through and listened to music, after Tanya had completed both tattoos I was allowed to look in the mirror. I

t was incredibly emotional which I didn’t expect, both myself and Tanya had a little cry together. Myself as I couldn’t believe how incredible the tattoos looked and how instantly I felt normal again, and Tanya as she could see how her amazing work is giving back confidence and helping women like myself and others who have actually been through a long and painful cancer and reconstruction process.

I’m so pleased with my areola tattoos and so thankful that I had found Tanya!