Every year, an estimated 252,710 people in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s 252,710 people fighting every day for their health to survive this horrible disease. Amongst the survivors is Kim Maddi, founder and leader of Ink Ribbon Foundation in Las Vegas. For Breast Cancer Awareness month, TruFusion has partnered with the Ink Ribbon Foundation to help cancer survivors heal through beautiful mastectomy scar cover up tattoos.
We had the chance to interview Kim Maddi about her trying journey as a breast cancer survivor and what inspired her to start this unique organization. To support the Ink Ribbon Foundation, you can buy the TruFusion “Fight It” shirts in-studio all October as all proceeds will be donated.
Kim, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about your story and the inspiring work you do for the breast cancer community. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to surviving breast cancer?
“Absolutely. I wasn’t feeling well at work one day and almost fainted when I stood up from a meeting. Later that day when I got home and undressed, I found a lump in my breast. Concerned, I went to the doctor to get a check up and was then diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41.
I was so confused. I was in the best shape of my life and breast cancer doesn’t even run in my family. After a double mastectomy, I was left with horrible scars as a constant reminder of my pain and misery. Less than a month after my last surgery, I filed for divorce. I was 45, single, had fake boobs with scars and ultimately sank into a deep depression. The cancer was gone, but I felt like my life was still over.
It wasn’t until I covered up my scars with incredible tattoo art that I felt healed and empowered. My road to becoming myself again had just been repaved and I knew that I needed to do this for other women.”
It’s incredible for you to help survivors in a way that is so near and dear to your heart. Please tell us more about the Ink Ribbon Foundation and how you help breast cancer survivors through the healing process.
“Even after you defeat cancer, the scars can be emotionally overwhelming. After I received my own tattoos from our tattoo artist, Tank, I broke down and cried with a sense of relief. I could now live my life without the physical and emotional scars haunting me every day.
Unfortunately, the tattoos are no cheap expense. Most women are unable to afford them as they can cost up to $2,000. The Ink Ribbon foundation provides recipients with a private tattoo consultation, as many sessions and touch ups as needed to complete their design and a professional photoshoot as their “Reveal.” We want them to not only heal physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.”
The “reveal” process is such a powerful healing experience in itself and must be so transformative for the recipients. What all goes into the reveal?
“It absolutely is the most empowering moment for our beautiful warriors. After their tattoos heal, we schedule a private photoshoot to unveil their new breasts. Our women choose whatever wardrobe and accessories they’d like to wear and we provide them with a professional hair and makeup artist for the photos. On the day of the shoot, we send them the digital files to share with their support system instantly.
The entire experience is our gift to the women who have already been through so much. This is only made possible through the generous donations through the Ink Ribbon Foundation.”
We will never be able to comprehend the amount of strength it takes to fight cancer and come out on the other side helping others to do the same. What advice would you provide to someone who has either personally been affected or has a loved one affected by cancer?
“My most important takeaway is to find your support system. We cannot just cover up the pain and suffering with a pink ribbon, it means more than that. Breast cancer survivors are the most real and honest human beings you will ever meet. We will always give you all of the information and support you need to persevere. It is an epidemic not being spoken about, and we intend to keep the conversation going to help each other.”
What is your biggest lesson from this entire experience as a survivor?
“That’s really easy. If I didn’t know then, I know now. I know my body and that is the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned. We take our health for granted every day. When I was diagnosed, I had a rigorous fitness routine and was always on the go. I only slept four hours a night.
Now, I know when I need to rest. Rest was always something I took for granted because I felt the constant need to be Super Woman, but even Super Woman knows her limitations. It took a devastating diagnosis for me to learn this, but if I can pass on one piece of advice, it is learn to know your body. Breast cancer entirely redefined my relationship with myself and purpose in life.
The Ink Ribbon Foundation currently has two tattoo artists treating the West Coast in Idaho and Nevada, with a goal to have one in every state. To help benefit Kim Maddi and the incredible women of the Ink Ribbon Founation, be sure to stop by your TruFusion and pick up a “Fight It” shirt, as all proceeds will be donated.
If you’d like to make an additional donation, please visit www.inkribbonfoundation.org.”