Vinnie Myers is a tattoo artist. But he isn’t just ANY tattoo artist. He’s special. And I’m not just saying that. I really mean it.
Cancer is never easy to deal with. No one’s ever ready for it. It kinda comes out of nowhere without warning and changes your whole life without your permission. When someone’s diagnosed with cancer, they often feel hopeless, confused…like they no longer have a say so. And in some ways, they don’t.
About 231,800 women will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer. A portion of them will end up having mastectomies. During most mastectomies, doctors remove the diseased tissue inside a breast, often taking the nipples and areolas in the process. Women who undergo breast reconstruction often get permanent coloring applied to where the nipples would be, but they have long complained that the flat, off-color results are unrealistic.
That’s where Vinnie comes in. Vinnie Myers, the 53-year-old internationally known artist made his name years ago for his amazing artwork. But now, he’s making headlines for a different reason-his ability to help women who’ve survived breast cancer, feel “whole again.”
Myers says that most surgeons have long overlooked the significance of this final step for women, explaining that these women often view their reconstructed breasts as a reminder of pain and disease.
“When you’re looking at those breasts, all you see are the scars, and all you’re reminded of is cancer,” Myers says. “So when you put this finishing touch on there, it distracts your eye from all those other imperfections because you have something to look at that’s very pleasing, and it’s an incredibly emotional finishing touch,” he told the Today Show.
Though Myers is still doing this work now, he admits that five years ago, he was on the verge of calling it quits. He stated that he started to get overwhelmed with all of the business he was getting and returned to return to doing “regular” tattoo work. However, that same year, he got a phone call form his sister, letting him know that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and at that point he knew that he had to continue doing the work.
Vinnie’s shop rests in Finksburg, Maryland, about a 40-minute drive from Baltimore. Here’s the jaw-dropping part–women from all 50 states and about 40 countries — including Brazil, Kuwait, Japan and New Zealand — have traveled from far and wide just to get tattooed by Vinnie!
“How much does something like this cost?,” you ask. Well about $400-800, depending on what the woman wants done. But before you shout “that’s too damn expensive” like I was inclined to when I heard the price, Vinnie assured the Today Show that by law, insurance is supposed to cover the procedure–citing the Women’s Health and Breast Cancer Right Act of 1990 requires coverage of all aspects of breast reconstruction.
And of course, not only does Vinnie get paid in U.S. dollar dollar bills, but he always gets paid in smiles–from the women he’s helping, from their families, and their friends. GO Vinnie!