NEW ORLEANS- For Denham Springs native Lisa Ordes, getting a tattoo is empowering. Ordes is a breast cancer survivor.
"I was diagnosed June 8, 2015, right before I turned 39," Ordes said.
The road to recovery was exhausting and painful, undergoing a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She's now cancer free, but this visit to the parlor is not just about her.
"Monday, I lost a friend to breast cancer. She was only 36, I'm 41. And, it's going to be hard Friday to say my final goodbyes to her," Ordes said.
Nine survivors from Louisiana to New York turned their scars into art Tuesday at Downtown Tattoos & Piercing and Electric Lady Land on Frenchmen Street. 15 cities took part in the event by P.Ink (Personal Ink), a charity whose mission is to pair breast cancer survivors with talented tattoo artists to cover the scars often left by mastectomies.
"The shops have closed their doors and they're donating over $10,000 of tattoo services," Friday Jones, a representative with Personal Ink.org, said.
Scott Barbier, is one of the tattoo artists turning these marks into a form of healing. It's a tribute not only to survivors, but his mother who died of breast cancer in 1998.
"I think it definitely gives them a sense of ownership of the scar. A scar that was given to them, that they didn't really want. Now they can have something that's their choosing," Barbier said.
Dr. Adam Riker, at LSU Health New Orleans says new technology is leading the way on what's called "Hidden Scar Surgery," a new option for some breast cancer patients.
"For patients who don't get a mastectomy, who just need a small incision called a lumpectomy for their cancer. We can do what's called 'Hidden Scar Surgery.' And so, I do quite a bit of hidden scar surgery where we make an incision right around the areola so you hardly notice it after it heals up. And oftentimes we can preserve the nipple as well, which is even better," Dr. Riker said.
As the ladies prepared to leave the parlor, they did so feeling uplifted, knowing they no longer have to feel ashamed or embarrassed, while giving strength to those still battling the disease.
"Education. That's my new goal, and making sure every young lady that I know, even the ones I don't know, are aware of what can happen," Ordes said.
This is the second year of the event in New Orleans.