"The last straw for Susan Duarte was when her nipple fell off.
Her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery now 11 years behind her, Duarte suffered a fate common for breast cancer survivors: one of her surgically reconstructed nipples didn’t take, and it simply dropped off.
Coming after surgery and cancer treatments, the setback was an almost-comical final ignominy, and one she didn’t have the energy to fight. So she resigned herself to her new reality: one nipple, and a sexless life.
“I didn’t take my clothes off for 12 years,” the brazen, vivacious San Jose native said recently.Her body wasn’t whole. But at least she was alive.
Several years later, Duarte’s sister, Cindy Dalton, was also diagnosed with cancer. She, too, went through a double mastectomy — but their lives have since changed dramatically.
Just ask them about their breasts — which look normal and whole, with surgery scars and all.
Both women opted for a surgery-free solution to complete their breast reconstructions: getting lifelike nipples applied via tattoos from San Francisco-based artist Sasha Merritt, who is one of a few artists in the United States providing an increasingly popular service for cancer survivors.
What Merritt does sounds remarkably simple. She matches a woman’s skin pigmentation with a custom-mixed ink, and uses light and shadow to draw nipples that look, even a few feet away, just like the real thing.
Via Susan Zager