Breast cancer awareness month may be over, but for breast cancer survivors, the awareness never goes away. Some reminders are as permanent as tattoos.
"For me, it's a battle scar," said psychotherapist and breast cancer survivor Vivian Schwabish.
As a healthy young mom, she was shocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.
"There was a period of time when I was still raising my children when I thought, I might die," Schwabish said.
She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and then radiation.
"You're getting it over the course of six weeks, five days and they want to make sure you're getting it in exactly the same spot," Schwabish said.
So her doctors made five dark, 1 millimeter marks - called radiation tattoos - in different areas on her body.
"Some women love them, it's like their battle scars, they made it through a really tough time in their life, and some women hate them," said Dr. Jennifer Mundt who works at Delete Tattoo Removal and Laser Salon in Phoenix.
They not only remove radiation tattoos for those women who don't want the constant reminder, but they do it for free.
"The laser's job is to hit the ink, blow it up into little pieces and then the body is to absorb it," she said.
Everyone in the room wears goggles because the light is so strong, and Mundt numbs the area. Mundt said it's similar to getting a freckle removed.
While Schwabish said she has thought about it and understands both sides, her tattoos aren't going anywhere for now.
"They remind me of the battle I undertook and they also make me appreciate every day that I have," Schwabish said.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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