Tattoed nipples for mum who had double masectomy after realising she had "Angelina Jolie' cancer gene

Tattoed nipples for mum who had double masectomy after realising she had "Angelina Jolie' cancer gene

Claire Whittaker and tattooist Dan Banas at Old London Road Tattoos

Tattoed nipples for mum who had double masectomy after realising she had "Angelina Jolie' cancer gene

First published in News
Last updated
Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

A woman who was told she had the same cancer-causing gene as actress Angelina Jolie – and had a double mastectomy to avert the disease – has visited a Kingston tattoo parlour to have new nipples inked on.

Three-and-a-half years ago, Claire Whittaker was told she carried the potentially deadly BRCA2 gene.

Last Friday, she took the final step in her journey, visiting Old London Road Tattoos after having searched “up and down the country” to find a willing tattooist.

Mrs Whittaker, 40, from Newbury in Berkshire, said: “I can’t tell you how realistic my breasts look. I’ve shown everybody. I keep saying ‘right, stand there and look at this’.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else. They were really professional, but positive, and I felt really at ease.

“Even though [the nipples] are completely flat, he’s done a 3D effect – they’re absolutely brilliant.

“It’s one of those funny things, having to go through magazines and thinking, ‘what colour do I want?’”

Parlour owner Ren O’Grady said: “I’ve known Claire for many years, just through mutual friends.

“When she was looking to get this done she didn’t know where to start.

“It’s something that we would love to be able to offer, if it’s going to help.”

Mrs Whittaker has tried to raise awareness of the gene through her blog, Claire and the Genie.

She said: “It all came down my father’s side. He had spent his life saying to me ‘I think there’s something in the blood’. I didn’t really take it seriously at first.

“After he died, I then thought, actually, I’m going to speak to my GP. That blood test is giving you a heads-up that you have a risk.”

She added that the operations meant she has been able to tell her children, Jemma, seven, and Ben, five, that “mummy’s not going to die”.

Mrs Whittaker said: “We took the option of telling them everything, right from the beginning, to take the drama out of the whole experience.”

Husband Dickson has been “amazing”, she said.

For more information about the mutated BRCA 1 and BRCA2 genes click here.

Comments (6)

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6:52pm Sat 12 Apr 14

robertbrickwood says...

who writes this crap?
who writes this crap? robertbrickwood
  • Score: -4

8:21am Sun 13 Apr 14

Simon Attwood says...

"Claire Whittaker was told she carried the potentially deadly BRCA2 gene."

Just a bit of clarification.

EVERYONE has the BRCA2 gene!!!

Misleading and ill informed articles like this should not be published without checking facts very, very carefully. Irresponsible journalism at its worst.
"Claire Whittaker was told she carried the potentially deadly BRCA2 gene." Just a bit of clarification. EVERYONE has the BRCA2 gene!!! Misleading and ill informed articles like this should not be published without checking facts very, very carefully. Irresponsible journalism at its worst. Simon Attwood
  • Score: 0

8:32am Sun 13 Apr 14

Simon Attwood says...

A bit of further clarification.

The BRCA2 gene is actually responsible for repairing cells. When it works efficiently it actually prevents cells becoming cancerous. So rather than being "deadly", it is actually one of the good guys.

The problem is thought to occur when this gene is not functioning properly due to mutation and therefore is inefficient at protecting and repairing the cells . There is a correlation between generations having this mutation and the chances of developing breast cancer. It is merely correlation at this stage and there are many other factors at work. One, that the medical community are currently investigating is the epigenetic effect of elevated baseline cortisol (stress hormone) and its potential to cause disruption to the mechanisms of cellular maintenance and its potential to cause gene mutation.
A bit of further clarification. The BRCA2 gene is actually responsible for repairing cells. When it works efficiently it actually prevents cells becoming cancerous. So rather than being "deadly", it is actually one of the good guys. The problem is thought to occur when this gene is not functioning properly due to mutation and therefore is inefficient at protecting and repairing the cells . There is a correlation between generations having this mutation and the chances of developing breast cancer. It is merely correlation at this stage and there are many other factors at work. One, that the medical community are currently investigating is the epigenetic effect of elevated baseline cortisol (stress hormone) and its potential to cause disruption to the mechanisms of cellular maintenance and its potential to cause gene mutation. Simon Attwood
  • Score: 0

8:58am Sun 13 Apr 14

Simon Attwood says...

So, to sum up the points above;

The BRCA2 gene does NOT cause cancer, it prevents cancer.
So, to sum up the points above; The BRCA2 gene does NOT cause cancer, it prevents cancer. Simon Attwood
  • Score: 0

2:19pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Judi456 says...

Do we need to know about this woman's tattooed nipples? Is this news ? Too much information.
Do we need to know about this woman's tattooed nipples? Is this news ? Too much information. Judi456
  • Score: -1

3:20pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Simon Attwood says...

I have to admit, I'm a lot less offended by a story of someone getting nipples tattooed after a double mastectomy than I am offended by the misinformation about the BRCA2 gene and being horrified by the fact that it is being given the trendy tag of the "Angelina Jolie" cancer gene in the headline, which may encourage more women in to unnecessary surgery because "If Angelina Jolie does it, it must be OK".

Simply put, a mutation in the BRCA2 gene means that the gene is less effective at repairing cells and protecting them from cancer. It isn't deadly and it doesn't CAUSE cancer. It just means that cancer is more likely because the body is less effective at protecting and repairing itself at a cellular level.
I have to admit, I'm a lot less offended by a story of someone getting nipples tattooed after a double mastectomy than I am offended by the misinformation about the BRCA2 gene and being horrified by the fact that it is being given the trendy tag of the "Angelina Jolie" cancer gene in the headline, which may encourage more women in to unnecessary surgery because "If Angelina Jolie does it, it must be OK". Simply put, a mutation in the BRCA2 gene means that the gene is less effective at repairing cells and protecting them from cancer. It isn't deadly and it doesn't CAUSE cancer. It just means that cancer is more likely because the body is less effective at protecting and repairing itself at a cellular level. Simon Attwood
  • Score: 0

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