As one of my patients put it, sometimes nipples are just hood ornaments. Other times, nipples & areolas are a huge part of self-confidence & body image after breast reconstruction surgery. Our patients have varying feelings about their body, but Mara DeFilippis of TataTattoos is using her experience to help women feel more confident, womanly, & sexy with her temporary areola tattoos. I was first introduced to TataTattoos by a patient whose demeanor completely changed from one day to the next after applying these to her new breasts – learn more by listening in to our interview!
Cancer runs in Mara’s family. She lost all grandparents prior to birth, her mother at age 51, her beloved half-sister, Diana, died of breast cancer at 37, along with her maternal aunt, who died at the age of 53. Her breasts were termed “dense” and “lumpy” due to having fibrocystic breasts, so she was checked annually with a diagnostic mammogram beginning at the age of 30. In October 2009, Mara was at the height of her career as a founder and CEO of a very popular non-profit organization and a single mom to a spirited 12 year old boy. In October of 2009, she had her last annual diagnostic mammogram, and as usual, the results were deemed to be normal.
In November of 2009, she felt a pea-sized dense lump in her outer, lower left breast. She just had a “feeling” this wasn’t normal and began having dreams that she had breast cancer. She went back to the doctor and basically demanded another diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. They said she was fine, but the dreams continued and she knew she wasn’t “fine”.
She kept pushing and had six diagnostic procedures in all, each becoming more invasive and difficult to schedule (due to the negative diagnoses). As many of you know, one of the most difficult things to deal with is waiting for answers where any kind of cancer is concerned.
Finally, in early April of 2010, Mara received a call from the surgeon, who explained the diagnosis of DCIS, the reasons why it was so hard to find, and that she would need to undergo a single mastectomy, though she elected to a double. The mastectomy was scheduled to take place three weeks later, which was scary, but knowing she wasn’t crazy and that the breast cancer early on gave her a huge sense of relief.
Mara elected to hold off on the breast reconstruction process due to the increased chance of infection when combining it with the mastectomy. Being a single woman, who had identified herself with beauty to some extent (though always humbly) having no breasts, and especially no nipples was very difficult. Though all women have a different experience, during this time, and also during the breast reconstruction process and related procedures, she certainly did not feel very womanly. She felt blank; incomplete; in transition; between genders (strangely); between chapters of her life; between changes in her values personally, spiritually, and professionally, and felt confused about what she understood her womanhood to be.
She was mourning my breasts, her sexual freedom, her birthright to breastfeed ever again and at times, her very womanhood. Every time she accidentally caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror unclothed, the blank canvas was a reminder of all that was lost. Her friends and my son were there for her along her journey, and this helped her spirits tremendously.
TataTattoos seeded itself in Mara’s mind during the dark and challenging times above, but wasn’t seeded in her heart until she could openly discuss her story without it causing negative triggers.
TataTattoos represents her offering of love and support for her sisters in a period of loss, of rebuilding and moving forward into new life chapters. It is her intention and hope that these temporary tattoos will bring you a rekindled spirit of fun, sassiness, feminism and of course…sexiness.
Mara serves as the Community Resilience Engagement Manager for The Knowledge Exchange for Resilience at Arizona State University. Her role is to bring together community stakeholders, faculty, students and others to create adoptable actionable research.
Prior to this role, she was the Engagement Manager for the Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Service, specifically aligned to the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN), a partnership with the city of Phoenix where she focused on multi-stakeholder circular economy solutions.
Previously, Mara worked with the Energize Phoenix project at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.
She is the founder of The Green Chamber: Greater Phoenix and was appointed CEO of the organization in 2008. The Green Chamber is the reflection of her vision of a more responsible and far-reaching sustainable economy.
Mara has a track record of championing sustainable economic solutions, children’s and women’s causes. She has started many successful organizations and committees in the non-profit sector and is a small business owner.
6:35 What are TataTattoos?
12:14 Why products like TataTattoos are so important for our patients
13:28 How patients can find, purchase, & trial TataTattoos
20:56 Nipples: sometimes more than just “hood ornaments”
25:32 Mara’s words for new & aspiring OncoPTs
Find TataTattoos on Mara’s website.