Alison Habbal is cancer-free and tatted to perfection. The Australian woman was just 36 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the form of a lump in her right breast, and she began to undergo treatment and an eventual lumpectomy (unlike a mastectomy where all of the breast tissue is removed, a lumpectomy is an operation in which only the tumor is harvested). Following her surgery, she celebrated with a different procedure: a 13-hour session in a tattoo parlor in Melbourne to decorate her scarred breast.
“I didn’t want a fake nipple made from some other piece of flesh,” Habbal told the BBC. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to get a tattoo.'”
Habbal posted the image to Instagram and Facebook, where she promptly got an outpouring of admiration. “The tattoo is great, but the reason why is even better!!!,” wrote one user. “Cheering you on, it’s looking amazing,” said another. Others shared words of encouragement and solidarity: “Amazing…am with you all the way, i have a reconstruction tattoo which I love xx.”
The tattoo was conceptualized by Habbal and created by New Zealand tattoo artist Makkala Rose. Take a look.
As a younger-than-average cancer patient, Habbal was drawn to the idea of a tattoo rather than reconstructive surgery or simply leaving her skin as is. “When I got [the lump] removed, I was so happy,” Habbal said in the same interview. “I’ve never been so happy in my life. It probably wasn’t the normal reaction—I didn’t mind the scar.”
Another thing that captured the hearts of commenters is Habbal’s sense of humor toward sharing images of her tattoo on social media. As you probably remember from the #freethenipple campaign, Instagram’s terms explicitly prohibit “partially nude” images (read: nipples), but because Habbal’s photo of a breast contains no nipple, it’s within the site’s usual criteria. “Because there’s no nipple, I can blast it everywhere all over Facebook and Instagram, and they can’t censor it, which I think is really funny,” Habbal said.