'That's what we deserve': Breast Cancer survivor's tattoo business helps others regain confidence

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been a few days since Tara Williamson began welcoming customers at her new shop in Louisburg. She purposefully opened doors the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"I didn't start out as a business woman. I'm a nurse," she said. "Life just had different paths. I'd like to say 'God had different meaning for my life."

The new business is called Pink Ink Tattoo and the mission is to help people like Williamson: breast cancer survivors.

Williamson is hoping her medical office will give folks a different experience than the one she had more than nine years ago.

Her world came crashing down in 2012 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I just knew that I wanted a double mastectomy and I wasn't going to play around," said Williamson.

She went through the long, painful reconstruction process that follows. Expanders were first put into her chest. Liquid was pumped in to fill the cavity and then eventually, the expanders are replaced by implants.

The final step was tattooing, which creates the illusion of an areola.

That's where upset began for Williamson.

"I was offered three different colors -- bubble gum pink, chocolate brown and nude," explained Williamson. "I just thought 'That is not what a natural areola looks like? What is happening?''

She says the options are unrealistic in a diverse world.

"It was just unacceptable," said Williamson.

She set out to do better.

Williamson left behind a 20-year nursing career. She's now trained in 3D areola and scar camouflage.

She mixes colors, one drop at a time, until it matches a cancer survivor's skin type perfectly.

"Now I'm able to help women and men from all over the country and beyond," said Williamson.

Her efforts have been featured in several publications, including Oprah magazine.

The office also offers other permanent tattooing, such as eyebrows for folks who may have lost their hair during chemo.

She tries to give back.

Her services can be covered under insurance, but Williamson will waive the cost for those who are underinsured or have no insurance at all.

She says every survivors deserves to be celebrated after such a battle.

"When you take your clothes off or look at yourself in the mirror, you feel more confident," said Williamson. "You're now really to live your best life on the second act and that's what's important."
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