Fern Orenstein is currently a member of Zero Breast Cancer’s Scientific Advisory Group and was a founding board member of our organization, serving a total of 20 years! The above picture was taken when she was an honoree at our 2016 Honor Our Healer event. We are pleased to share with you a blog Fern wrote about her newest endeavor: A 3D nipple and areola tattooing nonprofit for breast cancer survivors.
Why I am starting a 3D nipple and areola tattooing nonprofit for breast cancer survivors
I am blessed to say the words “I’m a 22-year breast cancer survivor”. Over these decades, I have meandered through the windy path of my own personal cancer journey, seeking guidance from both my own experiences, and my professional work. This has helped me cultivate a more intimate relationship with the very non-linear path of cancer survivorship. I have certainly gained a deeper sensitivity for the many challenges others often face in navigating their own journeys. This ‘cancer dance’ begins with a diagnosis and a multitude of treatment decisions, and brings forth many uncertainties and lifestyle choices to be wrestled with, often alone. Continuing down this windy path, we peel away layers — to reveal a sense of becoming, a fighter, a survivor, a warrior.’
Breast cancer survivors find empowerment in 3D nipple and areola tattooing
My current passion and long-term vision is to create an opportunity for universal access to 3D nipple and areola tattooing. The benefits of 3D nipple tattooing (also known as nipple /areola repigmentation) include restoration of a natural looking breast and the possible avoidance of additional surgeries, as well as emotional healing. 3D nipple tattooing offers survivors an opportunity for a greater sense of closure around the loss of their breast, and can play an important role in helping them feel “whole again” both sexually and emotionally.
When I was working for UCSF as the Avon Breast Care Program Manager at San Francisco General Hospital, I wrote a charitable care grant and we were able to provide tattoos to almost 50 underserved women. The emotional response and positive impacts of the tattooing on body image and self-esteem were quite powerful and illustrate the value of the procedure in the context of women’s lives.
It was such a transformative and empowering experience for them- as well as for me. So much that I am in the early stages of starting a nonprofit to bring this non-surgical option to any person who has undergone breast reconstruction and remains without a nipple and/or areola.
I believe this procedure should be available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. The non-profit will ensure that patients who have lost their nipples after breast cancer and who require financial assistance, will be able to benefit from this opportunity.
Read Fern's full article and view pictures by clicking here!