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Cancer survivor tattoos nipples

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Nipple tattooing was not the expected career path for Masterton mother and artist Rebecca Fisher.

But after being diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing a double mastectomy and losing her nipple, the curious art form drew her in.

Fisher is a qualified paramedical and cosmetic tattoo artist, with a harrowing journey behind her chosen art form.

She invited the Wairarapa Times-Age to her clinic on East Taratahi Rd.

“Last year this was my art studio,” she said.

“I had just finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts and I probably thought I was going to make art and exhibit in galleries or something.

“But that came to a sudden halt once I got diagnosed with breast cancer which literally took over my entire life for 18 months.”

She was given the diagnosis at the end of July last year and underwent chemotherapy for a “gruelling” six months.

Within three weeks of the first treatment, Fisher had lost all her hair.

“It was pretty traumatic as a woman losing your hair and someone saying to you, you’re going to be bald in two or three weeks,” she said.

“But hair seems small in the scheme of fighting for your life.”

Following the chemotherapy and other treatment, Fisher underwent a double mastectomy with three reconstructive surgeries between January and July this year.

This surgery meant she would have to forfeit her nipple.

“I wasn’t looking for a new career, but knowing that I was going to lose a nipple, I just started looking for solutions on the internet,” she said.

Fisher demonstrates the tattooing process on synthetic tissue. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Fisher demonstrates the tattooing process on synthetic tissue. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

Fisher stumbled across a cosmetic procedure called micropigmentation, a process which involves depositing natural pigment to the skin in a similar way to ink tattooing.

Even though Fisher didn’t know where to get the training at first, she was committed to the idea of giving breast cancer survivors their womanhood back through a tattooed nipple.

“So that set in motion all of this,” she said.

She is now trained in 3D nipple tattooing, eyebrows and eyeliner.

Her skills can also help camouflage conditions related to the hair and scalp, scarring, vitiligo, and burns.

Fisher, who had been a stay at home mum, with previous experience in advertising said she had always wanted to do something that was meaningful- “I just didn’t know what that was”.

“Learning the art of tattooing, and understanding the loss and being able to help others, it just made sense and felt right.”

“For me, everything about cancer is paired and dual.

“With happiness comes sadness, and with loss there is gain.

“I don’t consider it a cliché at all, but there are silver linings everywhere you look and when something like [cancer] happens, all you have to do is look closely and you will see them.”


*For more information visit rebeccafisher.co.nz


  1. Am interested to see if the service you offer is really a 3d nipple look a like as do not feel I can go through a nipple reconstruction after mastectomy etc. If so would love to know your location, costs and waiting time? Hugs Gill 🙂

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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