Six years ago, at the age of 34, Karen Malkin-Lazarovitz found out that she had about an 85 per cent chance of getting breast cancer.
So, she had some soul searching to do.
“Because the women in my family had breast cancer, I decided to remove my breasts prophylactically,” she told Global News Tuesday evening.
“I thought I was going to get breast cancer. I felt like a ticking time bomb.”
She lost an aunt to breast cancer, and other family members to ovarian cancer on her father’s side.
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She elected to undergo reconstructive surgery but, due to complications, healing took longer than anticipated.
A one-year reconstruction took three.
Rather than full reconstruction, however, she made a creative choice: she opted to have a massive tattoo cover the scars.
“I decided instead of reconstructing my nipples, I’d put a beautiful piece of art there,” she said.
“I wanted to replace the scars with something I’m proud to look at.”
Malkin-Lazarovitz has a mutated BRCA gene, which can lead to cancer.
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, a non-mutated BRCA helps repair damaged DNA and plays a role in keeping the stability of a cell’s genetic material.
It took a total of six hours over two sessions in June and July.
“There are so many people who say ‘what if?'” said Malkin-Lazarovitz’s husband Joel Lazarovitz, referring to a woman’s decision to get the life-altering surgery.
“For her, it was a matter of feeling comfortable in her own body.”