A tattoo parlor in Finksburg, Md., has become an unlikely destination for breast cancer survivors.
Watch the video and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.
1 What time does the journey begin?
2 What happened in July?
3 How do people react when Kimberly Winters tells them she has no nipples?
4 How far away do people come from to have their breasts tattooed?
5 How many tattoos a year is Vinnie Myers doing?
6 What is Kimberly's marital status?
7 What happened to Vinnie five years ago?
8 What has been Kimberly's attitude during her illness?
You can check the answers by reading the transcript below.
We are road tripping it for some nipples. We are hopping in the car at 5.30 in the morning (1) to drive to Maryland to see Vinnie Myers who is a tattoo artist who specializes in nipple tattoos.
It was the end of July when I had my first surgery, my lumpectomy (2) and then for months I had chemo and then I opted to have a double mastectomy.
When you get to the nitty-gritty of like I don’t have nipples, people don’t know how to react (3), you know, I think they are trying to envisage what that looks like. I think that a lot of women don’t like to talk about it because they don’t know how to handle that uncomfortableness, but I live for that.
I am completely exhausted and in about four hours I should be in Finksburg, Maryland.
I’m not alone, I mean, there are women who have flown in from Dubai to see this guy (4). They call it getting a ‘vinnie’, so I’m going get my vinnies.
I would have never thought that I would be doing what I’m doing now. We’re probably doing anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 a year (5) and it’s to the point now where we can’t do anymore during the day than we are doing. It still kind of astonishes me and it really puts into perspective the volume of people that have breast cancer.
Are there colours I can look at?
I can mix some colours for you because it’s going to take a mixture of these colours to get to where we are, but I can tint it towards the pink, that’s not a problem.
Do you have like colour…
Your skin colour looks more like brown, it would be better than pink.
I don’t want brown!
Well, I mean, no on the brown spectrum. So it will be inside that circle…
… so go a little smaller than this originally because we can erase, though.
I want to feel comfortable naked like… I want to look normal again, might feel normal again, which is actually why I feel reconstruction surgery is so important, than nipple reconstruction as well as the tattooing. It’s a really horrible time, but you can try to see the light in, in little things and humour and positivity get you a long way when you’re sick.
Are you married?
No (6). Would you marry this?
Of course, what can you say? You’re about to get upon my titties. I have to be careful, I forget everybody out there can hear.
There, trust me, this is a tattoo shop. This ain’t no bible study. Alright sparky.
Plastic surgeons are limited in really what they can create. It’s not their fault, it’s just that they are not tattoo artists, so they have generally a range of twelve pigments especially for women who have had unilateral mastectomies, where only one side has been taken out. It’s so hard to colour match. There’s a lot of bad nipples out there.
Five years ago I thought that I would stop doing this because it was taking over everything that I was doing. I was going tell the guys, hey, look, no more, no more appointments being made, and then that was the morning my sister called me and told me that she was diagnosed breast cancer, so I kind of felt like maybe that was a sign that I should keep doing this, so… (7)
Now you just have to wait a little while for the redness to settle.
I mean, that’s kind of amazing.
All I think, that looks like a totally real boob, it just like you had an augmentation and it doesn’t even look like you had a mastectomy done. Alright, so, let it sit for a couple of minutes.
Oh, my God! I am so wet t-shirting it! Oh, my God! What a relief! Well in many ways it’s a celebration because I survived. There are so many women that don’t get to this point. I don’t really think about it much in terms of that way, but… because I’ve really tried to stay positive (8) and this is so exciting for me that it’s bitter sweet.
You know, you definitely lose your artistic satisfaction that you get when you’re doing nipple tattoos all day. You don’t get that same gratification when you know, you finish a bad piece or you finish sleeves, you’re taking the final photos, but you gain this other satisfaction, that’s, that’s even more rewarding.