A breast cancer survivor finally feels "complete" after getting new nipples tattooed

·3-min read

A breast cancer survivor finally feels "complete" after getting new nipples tattooed - and she filmed the whole process to show it's not scary.

Mum-of-three Sarah Drake, 42, had a double mastectomy after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2013.

And while she had a reconstruction a number of years later, the temporary nipple tattoos had faded, leaving her feeling like something was missing.

The charity worker plucked up the courage to book an appointment with a tattooist and filmed the whole thing.

Now she feels like the "final piece of the jigsaw" is in place, and has shared the video diary of her ordeal to raise awareness.

Sarah from Hest Bank, Lancashire, said: "A cancer diagnosis is always terrifying because everything feels completely out of your control - and the aftermath leaves you reeling.

"It's like your world is a snow globe, and someone shook it then put it back on the table upside down before saying 'carry on' - but where do you start when nothing is the same as before?

"It's now been eight years since my diagnosis in which time I have had to rebuild my life, and my nipples were the final piece of the jigsaw.

"Making the choice to go into a salon and get these tattoos has given me my control back and I finally have the closure I need to be able to look to the future and feel hopeful."

Sarah said being diagnose with cancer aged 34 came as a complete shock.

Sarah, who now works with charity CancerCare, who helped her, said: "I remember being given my diagnosis after I went in to get a lump checked out, and thinking about how I was about to go home and ruin my family's world."

During chemotherapy and a double mastectomy in 2014, she went into "survival mode" until she was declared cancer-free milestone in 2018.

She had nipples artificially created from her skin as well as basic temporary nipple tattoos on the NHS, but over the years they faded.

It left her breasts looking "incomplete" and preventing her from feeling "closure" she said.

3D nipple reconstruction tattooist Jodie Hegarty performed the procedure to add them back on during two sessions last month, with the final stint on Thursday (29).

"I was quite nervous but Jodie was lovely and put me completely at ease and we were chatting the whole time," said Sarah, who has sons George, 16, Will, 13, and Henry, nine, with husband Simon Drake, 42.

"What was amazing was that it was like going to a salon.

"After eight years of endless clinical appointments in hospital rooms, the atmosphere was totally relaxing. It felt like going for a haircut.

"I am over the moon with the end result too. They look very realistic and I smile now when I look in the mirror.

"This was special because I chose this for myself. Nobody told me to do it, but I opted to get the procedure to finish what I started.

"Now I have a feeling of completion, there are no more question marks, and I finally feel I can look to the future."

Jodie has pledged to donate 20% of the proceeds of all 3D nipple tattoos she does over the next 12 months to CancerCare.