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Project Areola

Increasing Breast Cancer Awareness & Offering 3D Areola Tattooing and Scar Camouflage to Survivors Who Have Undergone Reconstruction

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Campaign Ends on January 1, 2022

Project Description

Blush, Cosmetic and Paramedical Tattoo Studio, believes in the therapeutic benefits of confidence in one's outward appearance, translating to inward self-love. We empower women through improvement of self-confidence, providing a dignified and therapeutic experience. Our licensed tattoo artist, Vanessa Schaaf, restores part of what is lost during reconstructive surgery, often due to cancer, by recreating hyper-realistic 3D areola tattoos.

Although men are also affected by breast cancer and are certainly eligible for 3D areola restoration, women are affected at substantially higher rates, which is why they are our main target in this project. For some women, who's outward appearance was altered by a battle with cancer, their nipple/areola, or lack thereof, is not an issue. Some walk with their head high, proud of their battle scars as a badge of honor, which is GREAT! For others, this is a constant reminder of the struggles they endured, and 3D areola and nipple tattooing helps to restore some of what they had lost during their breast cancer journey. Whether it be in intimate situations, or simply when they dance in the mirror at home, this service can provide a feeling of "whole-ness" again. Often times, the tattooing of the areola, and perhaps some scar camouflage tattooing, is the final step in their recovery after a long road of becoming a breast cancer survivor. 

Funding would provide Vanessa with the opportunity to provide this life-changing service to women free of charge as part of the Project Areola campaign. As breast Cancer awareness month, October is one month in particular where this service is promoted more heavily, and education is offered to our clients and social media followers to educate on the importance of routine mammograms. Campaigning of this sort increases visibility on the issue of breast cancer and allow for opportunities to promote the importance of early breast cancer screening. The completion of the pro-bono services, in addition to the campaign in October, will allow for further outreach and ability to promote her service to local medical facilities and reach more women who are wanting to increase confidence and improve their self-image after their cancer journey.  Additionally, paying clients who are receiving areola tattooing are provided with a letter of medical necessity so they are able to seek reimbursement for the areola reconstruction with their insurance companies, following the Federal Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act. 

Furthermore, it is our goal to collaborate with local surgeons and medical staff, some of which we have already gained connections with and receive referrals from, following the recovery of their patients. In addition to providing these services to clients individually, our goal is to reach women prior to a cancer diagnosis, if that were to happen. We hope to host educational and promotional events on-site, which just happens to be a very feminine, beautiful and spacious studio, including on-site mammograms and educational materials from experts in the medical field, while being compensated if necessary.

Blush operates out of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, with is considered a rural area, but has created a stellar reputation and a wide client base, with access to surrounding major cities. Funding would increase our ability to continue our outreach efforts within the medical community as well as to the public.

Who is Affected

In the US: "About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S." (www.breastcancer.org

In the World: "Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2018, it is estimated that 627,000 women died from breast cancer – that is approximately 15% of all cancer deaths among women. While breast cancer rates are higher among women in more developed regions, rates are increasing in nearly every region globally." (www.who.int

In 2018, Blush Studio came about, in a small studio in a medical facility in Rice Lake, WI, offering a small, specialized menu of services. In 2019, while continuing her education, Blush owner and AAM board certified tattoo artist Vanessa Schaaf, completed the advanced medical tattooing program held at Penn’s Perlman Building for Advanced Medicine, one of top teaching hospitals in the nation and one of the highest performing breast reconstruction centers internationally. Under the instruction of Mandy Sauler and her mother, one of the pioneers of the tattoo industry, she learned to put her tattooing skills to use in working with post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors and create the look of realistic 3D areola/nipple tattoos.

In addition to her experience with medical and cosmetic tattooing, Vanessa holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work, which greatly improves her ability to work with women who are experiencing the health complications that have resulted in the desire to seek these types of procedures. Additionally, she has years of college-level education in art and color theory, which sets her apart in her ability to choose the ideal colors based on the client's unique skin tone, and color-correct previous work, when needed. As a lifelong student, Vanessa consistently continues her education and trains with some of the most well-known leaders in the cosmetic and paramedical tattoo industry.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for taking the time to read about our mission and for considering the support of this cause. 

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