A WOMAN'S identity derives from how she sees herself.

Whether that means how she looks, what she does for work or where she is from.

But for the women diagnosed with breast cancer; the thousands of women who have had to undergo mastectomies, their identity is often lost.

Having seen more patients affected by this devastating identity crisis than she can count, one Gladstone woman is determined to make a big enough difference so cancer survivors in the region can feel whole once more.

Clinical nurse Carin French wants to become a certified cosmetic nipple tattoo artist.

Clinical Nurse Carin French would like to do a course that allows her to offer nipple tattoos to women affected by breast cancer.
Clinical Nurse Carin French would like to do a course that allows her to offer nipple tattoos to women affected by breast cancer. Matt Taylor GLA280118CANC

"Lots of surgeons do mastectomies and reconstruction, but there's rarely someone to finish it off," Carin said.

"Nipples are a huge part of being a woman. So without them, breast cancer survivors can feel incomplete.

The tattooing would help women feel whole again ... it's the final step in their completion.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they turn 85.

And just like the physical trauma the human body undergoes when under the surgical knife, a woman's identity can suffer a devastating blow if she loses her nipples and breasts.

"Some people don't understand because it's very difficult to explain if you haven't been through it," Carin said.

I really want people to see my aim behind it."

When in public, nipples are essentially a taboo topic.

But Carin said people's understanding of the psychological impact the tattoos could have on breast cancer survivors was crucial.

"It's quite amazing because it completes the package," she said.

When they look at themselves they see a complete, whole woman.

Despite working long night shifts in Gladstone Hospital's emergency department, Carin has already begun tackling her goal.

"I've raised enough to do the first of my two courses."

Once the six-week online Infection and Control course is complete, Carin will start fundraising for the second and final course in Brisbane, certifying her in cosmetic nipple tattooing.

Having already spoken to several medical practices in Gladstone, she said she sees herself offering the service by next year.

Clinical Nurse Carin French would like to do a course that allows her to offer nipple tattoos to women affected by breast cancer.
Clinical Nurse Carin French would like to do a course that allows her to offer nipple tattoos to women affected by breast cancer. Matt Taylor

"There's a surgeon in Gladstone who creates nipples with the skin. I want to create the colour," she said.

Carin encouraged people to read about nipple tattoos online to help understand how the complete, end-product could positively impact women.

To donate to Carin's nipple course fund and the set up of her service, go to mycause.com.au.

"There's no one who does it in Gladstone and in other places there's patient lists with 80 women's names on them," she said.

"Cancer is not a choice ... In my department (at the hospital) there were three women diagnosed last year.

"I want to help them all."


Bushfire reported near Glen Esk

Bushfire reported near Glen Esk

People in the area may be affected by smoke

Newly planted trees stolen straight out of soil in parklands

Newly planted trees stolen straight out of soil in parklands

The group planted 35 trees for National Tree Day earlier this year.

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