Local tattoo artist helps breast cancer survivors with healing process

An Albuquerque tattoo artist is helping breast cancer survivors by providing them with artwork that gives them a piece of their identity back. 

Jespah Torres has been tattooing for 29 years, and for half of his career, he’s been doing “survivor tattoos” on women who have had mastectomies. 

“There’s a lot of traumatic stories that come out,” the owner of Divine Eye Tattoo said. 

He reconstructs the intimate parts they lost and uses his art to cover up the scars left behind. 

“I think the whole process is pretty emotional for the recipient and myself, as an artist,” said Torres. 

Stephanie Cornelius was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 29. “I went in for a mammogram and then the rest is a whirlwind,” said Cornelius. 

She says the fight took a lot out of her. “I did chemo, due to the chemo I ended up being bald. Then I had my mastectomy so at that point it’s hard to feel really confident about yourself,” said Cornelius. 

However, Torres helped restore her lost confidence. You could say he jumpstarted her healing process mentally and physically. 

“It made me feel more feminine, after an experience of really going some of my femininity away,” said Cornelius. 

Torres says using his passion reignite the spark in others is a powerful experience for all. 

“So, to watch their faces change in the process and share in the emotional response, it’s a pretty big deal,” said Torres. 

Torres says he’s done anywhere from 60 to 100 survivor tattoos and he doesn’t just do mastectomy art. He says he is currently working on two sleeves to cover scars on a burn victim. 

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