Allyson Lynch is showing off her mastectomy tattoos to show that surviving a breast cancer diagnosis doesn’t make you any less beautiful or feminine.
Thirty-year-old Allyson Lynch is a hairstylist and model from Philadelphia. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 26, after completing an at-home examination. Noticing a slight lump in her breast that wasn’t there before, Lynch knew the importance of early diagnosis due to her own mother’s journey with breast cancer. Her family doctor confirmed the mass was cancerous.
“Immediately life turned upside-down. I was faced with a lot of big decisions I never thought I would even have to consider before thirty and all I could think was I wanted this thing out of me,” she told the Daily Mail.
“I had some very dark moments and it was more challenging than I could have ever imagined. I wanted to give up at points, I said I would never do it again. I just cried, I cried every single day… Until, there was a day that I realized I hadn’t cried and I stopped asking ‘why me.’ I found a strength I never thought I could possess. I learnt it was me because I could handle this.”
Following the diagnosis, Lynch had a bilateral mastectomy followed by 16 rounds of chemotherapy over 20 weeks.
In 2015, she had reconstructive surgery to reclaim her body. While her scars remained, Lynch was determined to feel beautiful in her own skin again.
“I had tattoos before cancer was even a thought in my mind, I had always loved the beauty behind tattoos. So, when I knew I was having a mastectomy I didn’t really see the point of getting fake nipples that serve no purpose,” she admitted.
“What seemed like the right choice for me was getting a beautiful tattoo. That made me feel like me, it’s like permanent lingerie… Every time I look in the mirror I feel pretty. It helps get over the loss of my breasts, it was my way of taking back what cancer took away. I was reclaiming my body.”
While her tattoos are beautiful, they contrast her difficult journey – where even tasks as simple as getting out of bed were draining. From eating to getting proper rest, Lynch admits the disease was all-encompassing.
“Treatment was very difficult, getting out of bed was extremely painful at times, and I ended up hospitalized twice,” she said. “Pain like I have never experienced in my life, my whole body hurt, nothing was comfortable, even the softest blanket felt like rocks. I was nauseous all the time. Eventually nothing tasted good, I loaded salt and sugar on everything trying to make it palatable.”
Despite her experience, Lynch uses modelling to show other young women living with cancer that the disease doesn’t take away from their strength and beauty as a person.
“When diagnosed I constantly looked for somebody that I could relate to, somebody that reminded me of myself that wasn’t the normal middle-aged woman you typically associate with breast cancer. I wanted to see someone young, edgy and relatable,” she said.
“When I find messages in my inbox from young women just starting out in their journey it breaks my heart but I am happy if I can make some sort of difference, it makes it feel as if the whole situation was worth something.”
While her journey was a trying time, she believes it allowed her to connect with herself in a completely different way, inspiring others to reclaim their lives after living with the disease.
“Sometimes it takes a tragedy to push you into the person you were always meant to be.”