EXCLUSIVE: Côte-Saint-Luc woman turns difficult life decision into art

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.

She lost an aunt to breast cancer, and other family members to ovarian cancer on her father’s side.

WATCH BELOW: Healing tattoos for breast cancer survivors

Click to play video: 'Healing tattoos for breast cancer survivors'
Healing tattoos for breast cancer survivors

She elected to undergo reconstructive surgery but, due to complications, healing took longer than anticipated.

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READ MORE: Removing ovaries cuts breast cancer risk in women with BRCA gene mutation: Canadian study

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.

Malkin-Lazarovitz has a mutated BRCA gene, which can lead to cancer.

WATCH: Explaining the BRCA gene

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.

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Tattoo artist Meaghan Goeb from Slick Styled Steel planned the tattoo with Malkin-Lazarovitz.

It took a total of six hours over two sessions in June and July.

READ MORE: What you should know about Angelina Jolie’s BRCA-1 gene and ovarian cancer

“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.

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