I’m Tara Williamson, a nine-year breast cancer survivor, nurse, and certified Ariola 3D Nipple and Scar camouflage tattoo artist. I founded Pink Ink Tattoo in 2014, working alongside amazing plastic surgeons in the country. We help post-mastectomy clients with an actual realistic appearing aerial. I was featured on NPR Radio, ABC, CBS, NBC, Opera, Winfrey magazine, Wildfire magazine, Uncraft Inspired magazine, and so on.
Symptoms and diagnosis
When I was 39, I was just working and living my life. I didn’t have breast cancer in my family. But I did have a mammogram at 39 years old. I started doing mammograms every couple of years. I had no symptoms of breast lumps. When I was about to go the third year without a mammogram, the doctor suggested that I should go for a mammogram. Even I felt maybe I should. So I had the mammogram in January of 2012 and was actually diagnosed with breast cancer on February 28 of 12th.
I wanted a double mastectomy but my breast surgeon didn’t agree with that. After a lot of mammograms, ultrasounds, and genetic testing, she just suggested a lumpectomy. That’s not what I wanted to do because I knew that mentally and psychologically I would be in a bad space forever because of worrying about it. I had a lumpectomy but it came back with worse results from the pathology. Then I spoke to her and said that I know what to do with my body. I asked her to perform a double mastectomy to which she agreed. In May of 2012, I had a double mastectomy with expanders. Afterward, temporary implants were replaced with permanent implants in December. This was followed by fat grafting and nipple reconstruction.
How I came up with the Pink Ink tattoo
The next thing is aerial tattooing, I had never heard of it. So I got it done by the nurse in the office because my only other option was to go to a tattoo shop. His work was beautiful, but I’ve already been through so much that I didn’t want to feel more vulnerable and exposed again in a tattoo shop. The nurse did the best that she could, but it was not what we deserve. And it was so painful that she wouldn’t use lidocaine. We deserve so much better than this. So, I decided to train in tattooing. I went through intense training for a couple of days, 13 hours a day.
I started my company, Pink Ink Tattoo, in 2014. When the surgeon saw my work, he asked to get in here and help women. For almost eight years now, I’ve been in his office in Raleigh, North Carolina, helping people from all over the world. Over the first two years, I saw local folks, and then the word just started getting out, and my work just showed for itself.
I think it’s just because I understand how they feel as I can relate to them. Not just a circle and a dot, not just something that looks like a tattoo, but something that when that person looks in the mirror, they feel whole. Plastic surgeons started reaching out and asked if I could come in and help. And I also work with a nonprofit that covers this. I do a Day of Hope every year where I do free aerial tattoos.
Leading a different path
I love nursing. God had other plans, and it just led me down a different path. So 2015, I left nursing and went 100% into this. I don’t do traditional tattooing. I only do aerial complex 3D nipple and scar camouflage, which is skin tone scars coverage. We have even expanded my office with permanent makeup with the help of my daughter-in-law, Caitlin.