Lady Ink

When Debbie Casson discovered she had breast cancer, she didn’t realise she’d also discovered a new career too.

As a beautician, Debbie was used to making women feel good and look great. But after going through a tough two years of breast cancer treatment resulting in a mastectomy and reconstruction, she became aware of the aftermath so many women like herself had suffered: an overwhelming feeling of incompleteness.

So, with her typically bubbly approach to life, Debbie retrained as a cosmetic tattooist, to make women feel whole again.

Debbie’s skillset is incredibly unique: tattooing astonishingly detailed, super-realistic nipples. “I saw it being done overseas and not many people were doing it here, so I thought ‘I can do that,’ so I trained in the US and practiced at home.” An amusing recipient of the training was Debbie’s husband James, who now sports a realistic looking nipple tattoo on his right backside cheek.

It seemed only natural for James to return the favour, so for Christmas he proudly gifted her a new set of plates for her company car – TITTAT. “The clinics and my clients always tell me how great it is,” says Debbie with a grin, “and it always gives them a smile. When you go through what we’ve been through, you have to develop a sense of humour, and the patients really appreciate it.”

It’s all part of Debbie’s mission to help her fellow breast cancer survivors. “I call what I do the ‘cherry on the top,’ a really positive ending to everything these women have been through. It might seem a small thing – just a 3D looking tattoo of a nipple – but the result is always incredibly emotional,” Debbie beams, proudly.

Debbie now lives in Christchurch and continues to grow her business. “I’ve found what I was meant to do, there are so many brave women out there I’ve been lucky enough to help – and I love all my ladies!”

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