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Ink on Pink - Alice-May

30, South London

For Alice-May, getting a tattoo was a way of taking ownership of her breast cancer experience.

The 30-year-old was diagnosed in July 2015, when she was only 26.

Earlier this month Alice-May shared her mastectomy tattoo on Instagram. In the post, she said: “I know tattoos aren’t for everyone, but I knew fairly early on in my cancer diagnosis (even when I was totally tattoo free) that I wanted a mastectomy tattoo and that want only increased with every time they cut me open to operate on the breast where a tumour had made itself at home. I have seen so many ugly iterations of what was left behind and a tattoo is a way for me to deal with the many, many tears I shed over the breast that used to exist. The battle ground left behind by cancer has been turned into something beautiful. It sounds strange to mourn for a body part and to grieve for a body that let me down and a life that would be no better or worse than the life I have now, but grieve I did. Grieve I have. Grieve I do.

Alice-May
Alice-May

“Getting this tattoo was a chance to take ownership of that experience and take some control back of my body. The feather represents my life as a writer which has only grown as a result of my cancer experience, and the process of moving forward, while the words underneath “to live would be an awfully big adventure” is a reminder to myself that even on the hard days, whatever life throws at us, there is adventure and joy to seek. And there is always hope. And if in doubt, there’s always Hook.

“I finally feel like maybe, just maybe, I’m a step closer to healing. And this tattoo has been a massive part of this. How lucky I am to be alive and how grateful I am to keep trying to do the best I can every single day. Who knows how long the adventure will be. Who knows if cancer will make a comeback? But I’m going to keep trying my best forever.”

Alice-May was a model for Breast Cancer Care in The Show London in 2016 and since then has written a book, Life, Lemons and Melons about breast cancer and mental health. Alice-May has also supported the charity by taking part in a Facebook live interview, she’s also a media volunteer taking part in a topless photoshoot (pre-reconstruction) in New magazine, took part in the Care After Breast Cancer campaign and was interviewed by Sky News, and has taken part in a podcast and written two blogs for the charity about mental health and also radiotherapy.

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