ITW n°104: Alexia - Teton Tatoo project.
today I present to you, Alexia, 40 years old, generous, talented, tattoo addict and full of great ideas (very useful), so that's the summary, but Alexia is also a super mom who decided to transform a ordeal " realizing that life is too precious to let it slip through our fingers and that my professional and personal commitment had to be rebalanced " after what she had gone through, in her personal life and through contacts with the K fighters in her life professional, after lots of magic, her project was born "The Téton Tatou project" , which I invite you to discover and support here!
For this great idea for K breast fighters to see the light of day, it will need us and there are only 15 days left! Together Stronger!
and of course discover the beautiful Alexia below to find out more about this inspiring Warrior with a unique story
very nice discovery
Let's get startedWho are you ?
First name: Alexia
Age: 40 years old
Profession: Nipple tattoo artist!
You decided to create The Tétons Tattoo Project , how did this beautiful idea come about?
After 15 years in the development of new drugs against cancer, and after traveling the planet for my very demanding job, the leukemia of my youngest daughter, then aged 10 months, forced me to review my priorities... I had want to devote myself more closely to cancer patients and also to get closer to my own people.
One day I came across a video by Baltimore tattoo artist Vinnie Myers and wanted to follow his model. It gives women after a mastectomy (removal of the breast following cancer) an incredibly realistic nipple and areola using a 3D tattoo technique. To my great astonishment, no one in France, apart from a few rare tattoo artists, had taken up this project head-on. Patients were sometimes disappointed with the final appearance of their reconstructed breast and there was something that could be done to help them…
So I quit my job as a medical manager in oncology, picked up my pencils and my sketchbook and went to see a tattoo artist who agreed to train me in traditional tattooing and I began to establish the foundations of the project. I also trained in restorative dermopigmentation but the use of semi-permanent pigments did not give me satisfaction in terms of the result I wanted to be more realistic and lasting. So I tried to train with Vinnie but he couldn't do it in a short time. And I came across Stacie-Rae Weir, a Canadian tattoo artist, who developed a 3D tattoo reconstruction technique following her own prophylactic mastectomy. I went to train with her in Texas and was able to start this adventure on my return to France! She is an extraordinary person and I am very lucky to have met her, she inspires me every day and is delighted to see her technique arrive in Europe for the first time!
I now dedicate myself solely to this type of tattoo and receive patients from all over France (and even Belgium!) in a medical center which welcomes me once a week. I hope to move into dedicated space full-time this summer if all goes well!
Are you alone in your project?
Yes and no ! I am alone in tattooing with this technique but I am accompanied by a structure which helps me to put this project together, the Rives de Seine incubator. And I work in collaboration with surgeons from Gustave Roussy, who believed in my project and supported it from the start. They train me in reconstruction techniques so that I can best approach the cases of patients who come to consult me, and this collaboration is very valuable for me because it gives me the necessary knowledge to advise patients based on the surgery they are undergoing. have had. We think together about the best way to combine our techniques to give the best possible result to patients and allow them to accept their reconstructed breast. This tattoo technique gives a result that is aesthetically close to reality (trompe-l'oeil or 3D), personalized to the appearance of each patient and, above all, definitive, like a classic tattoo. Reconstructions have sometimes been a source of dissatisfaction for patients who found the result uniform in the case of a graft and not very similar to the remaining breast, or for those who had had a medical tattoo, this fading within 2 to 4 years ago they didn't want to do it again... Surgeons see this procedure as a satisfactory and aesthetic alternative, and less intrusive than a nipple graft, and welcome it with enthusiasm!
And then I also have my fellow tattooists who taught me the profession to advise me and my American tattooist friends with whom we advise each other on our patients, to give them the best!
If there are several of you, how have you distributed the tasks?
Within the consortium of tattoo artists trained in the Stacie-Rae Weir technique (Areola Restorative Tattoo), I am the "scientist" of the group, I am a bit of a link with the medical community which until then was a little doubtful but who finally recognizes the benefits of this technique for patients. I've always loved drawing and make it a personal thing to draw as many nipples as possible! 😊 Some of my “little ones” will become temporary tattoos that patients will be able to try before a permanent tattoo! We contact each other regularly to share our questions, our experiences, our hesitations, and we motivate ourselves to make this alternative known, already used for years in the United States but still very little here.
You yourself not having fought K, how did you find the idea and the generosity of supporting the fighters?
Having worked with patients for almost 4 years in oncology departments was the most beautiful and enriching professional experience I have had. Of course it was sometimes difficult but I always received a lot from them and from the caregivers.
Being affected by cancer as a mother when my daughter was a 10-month-old baby made me realize that life is too precious to let it slip through our fingers and that my professional and personal commitment had to rebalance.
It was quite natural that I broke away from my old life to embrace this new career and I do not regret it in any way…
This project allowed me to combine all my passions: drawing, the field of oncology, relationships with others and tattooing, which for me was also a great source of comfort in difficult times (in fact I believe that my story is widely told about my skin today!)… in fact it's a magnificent virtuous circle because I don't have the impression of working because what I do fascinates me so much and in return, I Receive so much emotion from these women who are regaining self-confidence!
Can you tell us more about your project:
This project aims above all to reconcile women with their image, I lead them to find in a few hours a certain acceptance of this new body, by leading them to see it as a whole, certainly different from what they have known, but fully theirs, and I lead them to first look and love what the mirror reflects back to them. After sometimes years of denial, they find the feeling of being "complete" again through this simple gesture, and I give them the ability to choose together, for the first time in the process of reconstruction, the shape, the color , the texture of this new breast. They feel invested and appreciate being included in the process... The emotion when they look in the mirror after the tattoo is indescribable... It is a deeply human project, where art is at the center of a real work of self-acceptance and letting go. The way we look at ourselves rather than the way others look at us and kindness are essential. The dialogue too!
Why was this idea born, from what observation:
After seeing Vinnie Myers' video, this project was obvious to me; and when I noticed that nothing or almost nothing was being done for patients in France I wanted to make things happen... it became obsessive to the point that I gave up everything to achieve it, spending almost a year year without income and investing a lot of energy, time and resources for a project that many found bizarre or crazy, considering my past career!
Can you give us some feelings during your performances, do you see a change in the fighters?
When patients arrive to see me, they have a very distant relationship with their chest: they do not look at it, undress mechanically as if they were dispossessed of this part of their body, hide with their arms or are embarrassed... After the tattoo, in addition to the smiles and tears of mixed joy and emotion, I see their outlook on them change; they look at themselves in the mirror, project themselves, find themselves… And I feel as happy as they do about what all this means for the rest of their lives! I am aware of the importance of this gesture for them, and of the responsibility that we must take for this type of service. We are not just experiencing a simple anchoring, we are, in a way, closing a painful parenthesis in the journey of reconstruction to make way for beautiful things to come for them!
It is so that they can live these moments fully that I want to be able to receive them in a suitable place, warm and friendly, confidential and a little cocooned... and that I want to avoid the hospital setting of which they are often tired!
Where can we find you?
I work in the Paris region, about twenty minutes from Roissy CDG, in a medical center which has agreed to host my activity once a week on Tuesdays (Maison Médicale du Serval, La Chapelle-en-Serval). I am part of a caring and very professional team who welcomed me with open arms!
What are your ideas for the future?
I would like to be able to receive patients full-time in a suitable structure and this is the subject of a Kiss Kiss Bank crowdfunding campaign, because a paramedical premises, a beauty office or a tattoo parlor are not for me. not the ideal place for this crucial stage of reconstruction after breast cancer.
Once this place is established, I would like to be able to work on the recognition of this technique as a real alternative in reconstruction and try to obtain even partial coverage for this procedure, which is reimbursed in a hospital environment.
I also work to train the medical profession and more particularly surgeons so that they can offer this alternative to their patients in certain cases.
Finally, I would like to be able to train other motivated tattoo artists in this technique so that it benefits more patients... 20,000 women per year are affected by a mastectomy in France!
At the same time, I continue my activity as a freelance medical writer in oncology to keep an eye on therapeutic innovations and not lose contact with the oncology experts whom I admire and with whom I love working!
Links to follow you (site / social networks):
Free field (what would you like to add that is not in my questions):
If you want to support / contribute / share to my project, on Kiss Kiss Bank Bank click here!
and to find out more, watch this presentation video!https://youtu.be/TYbWaAc4NxY