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Go backGrass Roots Profile: Personal Ink (P.INK)

It used to be when you mentioned tattoos and breast cancer, you would be talking about the small “tattooed” dots many women have placed on their breasts prior to radiation. Well, the times they are indeed changing! And Personal Ink (P.INK) isn’t just changing the conversation, they are changing the way grass roots organizations reach their target audience and find funding.

You won’t find them renting an office -- or even developing a traditional website. You will find that they have a strong and well-thought-out presence on both Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/personalink/) and the social media giant, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PersonalInk).

P.INK, which is considered a post-mastectomy tattoo support platform, was created to help educate post-mastectomy patients about tattoos as an alternative healing option, designed to help them take creative control of their post-op bodies.

The brainchild of Noel Franus and a group of co-workers at CP+B Agency (Crispin Porter + Bogusky) in Colorado, P.INK is part support network and part starter-fund to give women who want to get their scars tattooed the ability to do so without having to pay for it themselves.

The site invites artists, collectors, patients, supporters and the curious or simply intrigued, to share or pin their own stories, design ideas, and favorite artists. A collaborative association with David Clark Cause has enabled Personal Ink to impress with their sharp design approach, and also fuels their financial outreach.

One of the highlights of their Pinterest page is a video created to showcase the potential healing power of reconstructive ink. The film follows Los Angeles breast cancer survivor Molly Ortwein as she receives her scar-covering tattoo from Miami-based tattoo artist Colby Butler, who inked her two-year-old mastectomy scars.

“I was the last person you’d expect to get a tattoo,” said Ortwein. “But I rethought my options after my doctor told me that I wouldn’t get my nipples back. My coverage tattoos gave me the confidence to close that chapter and move forward.”

Noel Franus, who just happens to be Molly’s brother-in-law, helped create this non-profit passion project because, as he says, “When reconstruction doesn’t cut it, we want to give survivors a chance to re-envision themselves with an entirely blank slate.”

For those who feel inspired enough and are ready to take the step of getting a tattoo, P.INK encourages a few things.

Seek your doctor's approval.

Find an artist you like — one with mastectomy experience. This isn't very common — many artists have experience working with scars. But many survivors have skin that's been exposed to radiation, and that requires special expertise. P.INK has created a directory of artists they trust at http://p-ink.org.

Get to work! If you need design inspirations, feel free to browse their boards of mastectomy-specific designs at http://p-ink.org.

P.INK Day locations for October are TBD and space is extremely limited, so let them know if you are interested.

And in the meantime, if you've been through this experience and want to share your story to help inspire others, P.INK encourages you to send them your pictures and thoughts by emailing help@p-ink.org.