Raleigh cancer survivor looks to strengthen other survivors with tattoos

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One out of eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer- which makes up for about 12 percent of women.

In the Triangle, there has been an increase in advanced treatments to help woman through their battle with cancer.

But one local breast cancer survivor is helping the Triangle through tattooing.

Tara Dunsmore has tattooed more than 300 patients since starting her company, Pink Ink Tattoo, two years ago.

“I would have never thought this was what I was doing. I was going to retire being a nurse. I mean, that was my plan,” Dunsmore said.

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But her plan changed in 2012 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now, Dunsmore is still helping others – it’s just in a different way.

“I know women don’t get nipple reconstruction. A lot of people don’t and a lot of people do. I wanted to be able to offer them that realistic look if they did not choose to have that. And if they did to be able to enhance it and make it look real,” Dunsmore said.

She is now helping women like Anna Dehart regain their confidence.

Dehart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. After undergoing a bilateral mastectomy she is now getting an areola complex 3D tattoo.

“I think it will be very impactful. I don’t think I realize how impactful it will be until it is completed actually,” Dehart said.

Pittsboro native Amy Kimmy is also a breast cancer survivor. She’s been through four surgeries with one completely removing her left breast.

“I just get the strength. I just feel really good. I am in a great place and I am here. I am happy to be here. It makes me feel great,” Kimmy said.

“It helps me get back to somewhat of a place where I was prior to this diagnosis. To feel whole again and a little bit more like myself again and give me confidence in my body image,” Dehart said.

Dehart’s husband, Henry, was by her side for the procedure, just like he’s been since her cancer diagnosis.

“Every time she looks into the mirror to remind her of what happened. So having this done will help her get past that. She will feel complete again,” Henry Dehart said.

The Deharts say having the tattoo will also help them heal as a couple – bringing Anna’s battle to a close.

“It really will complete her. She will feel whole again. To be able to do this without full fled surgery. Without some of the more invasive solutions that they have. It’s just wonderful. It will make a huge difference for us,” Henry Dehart said.

As for Kimmy, two years after getting her first 3D tattoo, she is back for another visit.

Another reminder that she is stronger than her cancer.

“I just feel strong. Really strong. A lot stronger then I was two years ago or even five years ago,” she said.

And it’s that renewed sense of confidence that drives Dunsmore as she helps breast cancer survivors grow and see beyond their scars.

“My goal and my mission is to reach as many women and men, survivors, that I can across this country. To help them get that feeling of let them know they have an option and to feel whole again,” Dunsmore said.

Pink Ink Tattoo is located at 2304 Wesvill Court off Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh.

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