Habbal, 36, underwent a lumpectomy following her diagnosis, during which the tumor and some surrounding tissue — including her nipple — had to be removed. Though a lumpectomy only involves partial breast removal (as opposed to a mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed), in cases where cancerous cells are detected around or at the site of the nipple, the nipple itself has to be removed and patients are given the option to reconstruct.
However, Habbal was uninterested in having her nipple reconstructed. Instead, like some women have, she opted to tattoo her breast following surgery. "I didn't want a fake nipple made from some other piece of flesh. I thought I'm just going to get a tattoo," she told the BBC.
And the finished artwork by @makkalarosetattoos 13 hours, one sitting #painismybitch #likeaboss #inked #inkedgirls #tattoo #customtattoo #bowtattoo #floraltattoo #startattoo #breastcancer #fuckcancer #fxckcancer #lumpectomy #lifeaftercancer #scarcoverup #breastcancertattoo #survivortattoo #mastectomytattoos #momswithink #freethenipple Just kidding, no nipple! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
After careful consideration, Habbal decided to consult New Zealand-based artist Makkala Rose for a tattoo design, and the result is stunning.
"It's quite humbling and it puts a lot of things into perspective," Rose told the BBC about the tattoo's 13-hour process. "That made it really cool to be able to do for her," she continued, adding that Habbal was an "absolute champ" throughout.
And it seems a lot of people agree: photos of Habbal's tattoos have received hundreds and thousands of likes on Instagram, accompanied with encouraging comments.
"What a gorgeous work of art! It really reflects life, beauty, and hope," one Instagram user wrote. "Love and vibes to you for good health and much happiness. Thank you for sharing your story."
In addition to Habbal's strength and courage in undergoing treatment and deciding to make something beautiful out of it, the fact that she decided not to reconstruct her nipple means that her photos aren't subjected to censorship on Instagram or Facebook.
"Because there's no nipple, I can blast it everywhere all over Facebook and Instagram, and they can't censor it, which I think is really funny," she told BBC.