BOWIE, Md. — A popular tattoo artist is using her talent to help breast cancer survivors, who've had mastectomies, turn their scars into beautiful works of art.
When Tattoo Artist Jaclyn Matikas, owner of Pretty in Ink Tattoos, learned about a program that provides complimentary cosmetic services to women who've overcome 'medical obstacles' at Lash Moi Salon in Crofton, Md., she wanted to be a part of it.
"I would love to make people feel beautiful again and to get up feeling empowered of their journey," Matikas said.
So, in mid-October, she too offered free services to two women who wanted to cover up scars from having a mastectomy. She was first inspired by a customer two years ago who requested it.
"When you do tattoos, it's about creating art that usually helps someone heal from something or commemorate something," said Matikas, who is passionate about women empowerment.”
One of those customers was Chyna Holmes-Brantly. She has never had a tattoo before but was excited about the opportunity.
"I was scared," she laughed. "I had all the people praying for me that I wouldn't jump off the table and kick the tattoo artist just out of reflex, but these ladies were great and set the tone."
In 2011, Brantly found a lump in her left breast. When she went for a mammogram, doctors discovered she had breast cancer. She was diagnosed with stage three.
She had chemo and radiation treatment, but three years later Brantly was diagnosed again after finding a lump in her right breast. She tells WUSA9, it was stage four breast cancer.
In 2017, she was diagnosed for a third time after a recurrence in her right breast. Brantly decided to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery to use tissue from other parts of her body.
Matikas helped Brantly pick out a narcissus and larkspur flower design to reflect her journey. The flowers' birth months correspond with important dates in her life.
“It reflects rebirth and renewal as well as beauty and positive energy," said Brantly, who explained how important the tattoo will be for her. “Particularly, in those moments when I don't necessarily feel beautiful or feel very positive.”
Matikas has a family history of breast cancer, so this hits close to home. Her aunt just beat breast cancer.
“I can't even put into words how it feels,” said Matikas, whose face lit up when she talks about helping women feel more beautiful. “It helps me to heal also to be able to work with these women.”
Matikas’ shop is owned and operated by women. Plans are in the works to tailor services for the scar and post-mastectomy coverups.