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Recipient Spotlight: Christell Hicks

After breast cancer treatment and an attempt at nipple tattoos left Christell with emotional and physical pain, she got a mastectomy tattoo with P.ink that changed her life.

Christell Hicks was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2018. After going through a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and chemo, she was diagnosed again on New Years Eve of 2019. After more chemo, radiation, and an attempt at nipple tattoos, Christell faced emotional and physical pain that impacted her view of her womanhood.

Thanks to an old friend, Christell was introduced to someone that had gone through her own transformation, which inspired Christell to look into mastectomy tattoos. Christell was a 2022 P.ink Day recipient in Austin, TX where she was matched with artist Charles Huurman. Christell’s P.ink Day experience has made her feel more like herself than she has since 2018.

We interviewed Christell to find out what her P.ink Day experience was like and what advice she has for anyone thinking about mastectomy tattoos or applying to the Personal Ink program.

After my tattoo – if I could have walked the streets of Texas with my top off, I would have. I felt happy again, beautiful, and empowered.

– Christell Hicks

Decorative floral graphic

How would you describe your view of yourself before and after your transformation? What’s been your biggest challenge before, during, and after this experience? What’s been your biggest “aha” moment?

Before my transformation I was insecure, I was sad, I felt like people could tell that I was lopsided and that I had scars. It almost felt like people were looking at me like “poor her.” People would say you are beautiful the way you are, but I didn’t feel like that. There’s an after cancer when you’re looking at your scarred lopsided body that’s very sad. I felt ugly. After my tattoo – if I could have walked the streets of Texas with my top off, I would have, I felt happy again, I feel beautiful, and empowered. I feel like I’ve got my life back. I’m now a beautiful lotus that rose from underneath.

My biggest aha moment was never give up, don’t ever stop believing. When I saw how this made me feel, I told myself never to give up, just believe and trust, that this too shall pass. I was so nervous going into the event. Everyone was so amazing, sharing their testimonies before we began, artists shared their reasons for doing this, and we supported each other when we saw each other get emotional. We wrote great affirmations on the mirror with the paper that covered the mirrors during the event. It was an amazing day!

What was the highlight of your event for you? What about the most challenging part of the event?

The highlight of the event was the testimonies. The most challenging part was the fear of what it was going to look like. The most challenging was doubting myself and not being able to see it until it was done.

If you had to choose one word or statement to describe how you felt during your event reveal, what would that be? Why?

I felt like I was on top of the world, I felt so amazing. It was a sigh of relief.

What piece of advice would you share with potential future recipients? What piece of advice would you share with your younger self?

“Just do it!” Other than that, just go in with open arms and an open mind, everything is going to work out.

What’s one of your proudest moments?

Being able to open up and share my journey with other ladies.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The only thing I would like to say is never give up on your journey. Make sure you are doing what is best for you and not what someone else thinks is best for you!

 

Picture attribution: Jake Howse
Artist attribution: Charles Huurman

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