Local News

Actions

Special tattoos help Las Vegas breast cancer survivor heal

Posted at 10:37 PM, Feb 26, 2017

A Las Vegas woman is bravely sharing her recovery process with 13 Action News after beating breast cancer.

Melanie Afromsky used a specialized kind of cosmetic tattooing to complete the last emotional step in her healing process.

Afromsky was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2011. She had a double mastectomy, then a grueling breast reconstruction surgery.

 

It took her about a year to make the decision to go see Teryn Darling at GirlzInk in Las Vegas.

Darling tattoos features on women's breasts to make them look just as they did before the cancer.

"This is the finale to my whole entire process of getting better," Afromsky said.

Darling calls the tattoos "the cherry on top," because she says a lot of women still feel unfinished before them.

Like most cosmetics, the tattoos are highly personal and subjective. Afromsky and Darling spent several minutes agreeing on the exact coloring and shading.

Darling says it's more art than science.

"We have to create texture," she said. "We have to create depth and that 3D look."

 

When Darling began to sketch the features on Afromsky's breasts before the tattooing, Afromsky said that's when it started to feel real. The tattooing took about 45 minutes, and the ladies chatted and laughed the whole time.

Darling made sure Afromsky always felt comfortable.

After some finishing touches, Afromsky sat up and looked at her new features for the first time.

"Oh my gosh," she said. "That's pretty amazing. It's like three dimensional."

She thanked Darling and the women shared an emotional embrace.

"All of a sudden when they look in the mirror, those scars are in the backdrop," Darling said. "They're in the far distance. That's not what they see."
 
Afromsky, Darling and Afromsky's husband, David, all agree the tattoos came out perfectly.

"They're placed perfect, they're the perfect size, they look fantastic," Darling said. "I love them."

Afromsky walked out of GirlzInk saying she felt like she reached the end of a long road.

"I'll be back to myself," she said.

In May, Afromsky will be five years cancer-free.

She and Darling now share an unbreakable bond. Darling has been doing restorations like this for 12 years, and she stays in touch with most of her clients.

Both women agreed to participate in this story because they want breast cancer survivors to know this option's out there. They both say it's truly life-changing.