Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Tara Dunsmore Williamson, 46, dedicated her most of her adult life to a career as a nurse. However, in 2012 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Williamson traded a nurse’s IV needle for a needle of another kind—a tattoo needle.
“After a lumpectomy followed by a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, I underwent many appointments to increase the size of my expanders,” shared Williamson, who was treated by Michael Spiritos, MD, at Duke Women's Cancer Care Raleigh. “At those visits I asked my surgeon if he could refer me to an areola tattoo artist. He did not know of any.”
Unable to find a tattoo artist who specialized in areola artwork, she turned to a nurse she knew who performed this service part-time.
“She did her best, but the results were less than gratifying,” said Williamson.
Inspired for change, Williamson left her job as a nurse and to train in New Jersey under who she considers to be one of the country’s best 3D areola tattoo instructors. Her goal was to be able to give patients a realistic outcome—whatever color or size they desired. She joined her clinical knowledge and her own personal experience as a breast cancer survivor with this newfound artistry.
Williamson, now a certified permanent pigment practitioner, returned to North Carolina. In 2014, she founded Pink Ink Tattoo, LLC. Since establishing the Raleigh-based tattoo business, Williamson has provided more than 1,500 life-like tattoo areolas on post mastectomy patients in North Carolina and across the country. Tattoos are performed in clinical settings at surgical offices.
Williamson has been featured on multiple radio and television broadcasts. Pink Ink Tattoo has also been featured in many national publications, including Oprah Winfrey Magazine.
As a breast cancer survivor, Williamson also finds value in giving back. She is a longtime supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, participating with her Pink Ink Tattoo team in the local chapter’s annual Race For The Cure. This year Komen NCTC approached her about deepening her involvement.
“Knowing how much my husband and I enjoy motorcycle riding, organizers asked me to help put together a group of riders to lead the way for this year’s Survivor Walk,” she said. “I said, ‘Wow, what a great way to really celebrate and add some vroom to this amazing event.’”
The 2019 Komen Triangle To The Coast Race For the Cure takes place Saturday, May 4, at The Frontier at Research Triangle Park in Raleigh. For more information or to donate to or join Williamson's team, please visit Team Pink Ink Tattoo. To volunteer to lead by motorcycle those participants stepping out in the Survivors Walk, email Tara Williamson.