‘Disfigured’ grandmother has bra TATTOO after mastectomy

A grandmother who said she felt ‘disfigured’ following a double mastectomy, now shows her breasts to everyone – after having a bra tattooed across them.

Despite having reconstructive surgery, Judy Lawrence, 53 – who had aggressive stage three breast cancer – was too self-conscious to let anyone see her topless.

But now, the accountant says the lacy design, which took eight hours, has covered her scars and she is now constantly showing people her breasts.

Judy, from Hoquiam, Washington State, US, said: ‘The tattoo has transformed how I feel.

‘If talking about it and showing it off can help one breast cancer sufferer to feel empowered to take back control, then it will be worth it.’

Judy Lawrence, from Washington State, says the tattoo has ‘transformed’ how she feels

Judy says she feels 'empowered'

She hopes to inspire other sufferers

The 53-year-old’s tattoo too eight hours and has covered her operation scars

‘I was determined it wouldn’t define me’ 

Judy, mother to twins Peggy and Mathew, 31, was diagnosed with the disease in April 2013, after finding a lump in her right breast in the shower.

‘It was devastating. I had a grandmother who had breast cancer, so I knew it was in my family,’ she said.

‘I was checked for the BRCA1 gene – the inherited gene mutation – but luckily it came back clear.

‘But I was told I’d need a lumpectomy, where the tumour and some surrounding tissue is removed, which I had in that May.’

She had reconstructive surgery but still 'hated' her scars

This picture shows her flat chest which she had for ten months

After a lumpectomy failed to remove all the cancer Judy had both her breasts removed

The grandmother had three months of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy 

The grandmother had three months of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy 

But, a month later, Judy was told the surgeon had not managed to remove all the cancer.

She continued: ‘The doctor said some lymph nodes were affected, too, so the question then became whether I wanted them to take my breasts off as a precautionary measure.

‘With my family history and everything I’d been through already, I didn’t want the possibility of cancer happening to me again. I have kids and grandchildren – Taylor Arriola, seven, and Alex, five – and I really wanted a chance.

‘I was devastated at the thought of losing both breasts, but I was determined it wouldn’t define me. Really, I just wanted the cancer out of me.’

‘I would hide my chest’ 

So, Judy went under the knife for a four-hour double mastectomy later that month, before spending two days in hospital, recovering. She then had a gruelling three months of chemotherapy.

‘Luckily, I didn’t get really sick, but I lost some of my hair, so my granddaughter Taylor shaved the rest off,’ she recalled.

Judy then had radiotherapy, for five days a week, over six weeks.

When she started losing her hair while having treatment, Judy's granddaughter Taylor shaved the rest off

When she started losing her hair while having treatment, Judy’s granddaughter Taylor shaved the rest off

She said she felt that self-conscious of her scars that she even hid her chest from Taylor

She said she felt that self-conscious of her scars that she even hid her chest from Taylor

Ten months later she had her 36B breasts reconstructed, in a two-hour procedure at St Peter Hospital.

Judy, who still hated her scarred breasts, said: ‘Even just getting changed to go swimming, I would hide my chest. And the saddest part was I wouldn’t even let my granddaughter see them.

‘I felt disfigured and, If she came in the room while I was getting changed, I’d hide away.

‘I was left so badly scarred, it really bothered me to have someone see my breasts. I felt like they could see into my soul.’

‘I feel more empowered’

So, in May this year, Judy found a unique way to get her confidence back – by turning her scars into art.

‘My daughter had been trying to persuade me to get a tattoo for years and I always said, “No way, it’s not me,” she said.

‘Then I started talking to my family doctor earlier this year and he mentioned mastectomy tattoos.

‘I researched them online and saw that they were really beautiful, especially the bra tattoos.’

Judy was encouraged to have the bra tattoo by her husband John, 53

Judy was encouraged to have the bra tattoo by her husband John, 53


The first symptom of breast cancer most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in their breast.

Most breast lumps (90%) aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor.

You should see your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
  • A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • A rash on or around your nipple
  • A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

Breast pain isn’t usually a symptom of breast cancer.

NHS Choices 

With the backing of her salesman husband, John, 53, Judy visited Eternity Ink Tattoo, in Shelton, Washington, where tattoo artist, Cori Bella, designed a stunning lacy bra, which she inked across her breasts.

‘I wanted a beautiful design that would cover my scars up and make me feel fantastic,’ said Judy.

After two sessions, lasting almost eight hours and costing nearly £600 ($750), Judy’s inking was complete.

‘When I first saw the tattoo, I thought it was amazing and so did John,’ she smiled. ‘It was very painful, especially on the really deep scars, but I thought, ‘If this helps one person, then it’s all been worth it.’

‘Now, if people are staring at me in changing rooms, or wherever, they are staring at a piece of art and I’m ok with that.

‘I feel great, I’m constantly showing people my boobs now. On a women’s retreat I went on recently, people wanted to see them, and I was quite happy to let them. I don’t care.

‘It makes me feel more empowered than ever before.’ 

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