As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research, a Yorkshire-based female tattoo artist and single mum makes history for the second time in her career, as she moves closer to her goal of establishing a unique charity for breast cancer survivors.
Mum of 1, Lucy Thompson, 28, from Bradford, who is celebrating her business, Skinflicted’s 3rd birthday this month, trained in a specialist craft of tattooing realistic areolas on breast cancer patients this time last year, and in March 2018 founded NIP- the Nipple Innovation Project – a charity to provide funding for specialist treatment of permanent 3D nipple tattooing, to ensure everyone has access to the treatment, which clients describe as “life-changing” with the option of funding for those who need it.
This week Lucy is currently applying for full charity status after having raised over 5K in her first few months of launching the only charity of its kind, as she sets out to relieve the barrier of cost, to help more women feel empowered from this restorative tattooing believing that “every breast cancer survivor should have access to the highest quality restorative tattooing possible”.
As Lucy, who was nominated for Business Woman of the Year in the Yorkshire Choice Awards earlier this year, works towards her mission of rolling out her services nationwide, with a focus on providing as much funded support as possible, throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month she is calling on anyone interested in fundraising to consider her charity as a benefactor.
Clients travel to see her in Yorkshire from as far South as Brighton and Cornwall, she is now on a mission to roll her support out expanding her services nationwide, to meet demand. Lucy is building up a network of tattoo artists to train, with her vision being there being restorative tattooing in every major city in the UK and is calling out for other studios to come forward to be part of her extended team. She is training her first NIP artist this month.
Lucy said: “The aim is to build a directory of dedicated, compassionate and skilled artists who want to learn new challenging life altering skills which will help empower survivors and give them back the dignity they deserve, everyone deserves to have two nipples! The long term hope is to have qualified artists who specialise in the Art of Restorative Tattooing throughout every major city so breast cancer survivors everywhere can have easy access to the best possible tattoo options post mastectomy surgery, when looking for their finishing touches at the end of their journeys.”
Last year Lucy travelled to Texas to be the first UK artist to seek and achieve specialist training in the craft of tattooing realistic areolas on breast cancer patients, in her bid to shake up the industry and illustrate to breast cancer survivors that “they deserve better” when it comes to post op cosmetic reconstruction.
Lucy, who’s been a tattoo artist for the last 4 years, said: “Currently UK women only have the option of medical or cosmetic tattoo treatment – using micro pigmentation – this will wear away and require annual top ups, which can be traumatic for women, when they just want to move on from this ordeal. There are also issues with how unrealistic some of these tattoos can look, and this can result in further body image issues occurring in mastectomy patients”
“As a specialist tattoo artist, I unlike many cosmetic tattooers, have experience of dealing with scarred tissue, and I understand the skin in a different way. I want to achieve painterly results and have the techniques to work with the skin and its delicacies to get the best possible results.”
Lucy established the business last year after feeling it was her calling to use her talent for good, and with a history of breast cancer in her family, from her great auntie, to her auntie to her mum also having a scare. Lucy’s auntie was actually her inspiration after she had a mastectomy and got a tattoo done in hospital which faded quickly, leaving her with a constant reminder of her ordeal.
Lucy is working to get recognition from surgeons and doctors and media insurance companies for referrals of their patients to enable more women to access this service, something that is starting to happen in America but is a new concept for the UK currently and is also exploring opportunities of working with local health authorities to enable funding for clients – but creating the charity is her taking matters into her own hands to try to reach as many people as she can.
Lucy has already helped 30 ladies in the last year. Lorna is one of them. She said in a thank you to Lucy: “I wanted to thank you for making me feel whole again.I have spent the last 6 years not liking myself and having low self-confidence after a mastectomy.From the moment that I met you, you made me feel at ease and able to trust you, your passion and enthusiasm is infectious and the attention to detail is amazing and I will always recommend you to others.My confidence has returned and I no longer feel that something is missing and you have given me back my life again.I hope that your business goes from strength to strength as you are amazing at what you do.Thank you I will always be very grateful”.
Lucy’s always had a desire to help others as she credits her tattoos and now her business as ‘saving her’ after battling with depression for the last 13 years.
She said: “‘Having tattoos empowers me, I feel more myself than I ever have in my life! they help heal, give confidence and allow the wearer to take ownership of their bodies! Whatever war or fight they have been through or overcome, a tattoo is a scar you choose and being able to give that gift to someone is just, beyond words! Getting into tattooing has helped me with my mental health – given me a meaning and a purpose and I want to take this further now and give something back. I know how different you can feel thanks to a tattoo – it can be just amazing, and to be at the giving end of that is a fantastic feeling”.
As part of her activity in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lucy is offering free correction work on faded medical tattoos to as many people as she can give an appointment to.