Pioneers in Flat Advocacy
A blog series designed to highlight and amplify the voices of the flat advocates who blazed the trail and laid the foundation for those that followed.
Nikki “Trip” Tripplett
Nikki “Trip” Tripplett was diagnosed with multifocal breast cancer at age 36, in 2015. She had a strong family history of breast cancer, and had the full battery of treatments – chemo, single mastectomy followed by contralateral mastectomy, radiation, and more surgery. Trip lives in Texas with her longtime partner, Unique, and is a runner, influencer, entrepreneur, and breast cancer advocate. In 2018 she walked the runway during NY Fashion Week 2020 for the #Fearless fashion show by #Cancerland and #AnaOno benefitting Metavivor – she also interviewed other participants. She was interviewed on Houston’s Isaiah Factor Uncensored about her experience. Trip has worked extensively with the Young Survival Coalition to fundraise, provide support programs to cancer survivors, represent her community and get information about breast cancer into the community discourse, and has been featured in both Forbes and Glamour Magazine. Find her on Instagram at @ThatDamnTrip and on Instagram and Facebook @TheCancerPreneur.
When you were making your reconstructive choice, how did you end up choosing flat?
“I was NEVER making a reconstruction choice, I just knew that I didn’t want to live with JUST ONE Breast. It took me a year of wearing Hospital socks stuffed in my bra and constant lopsidedness for me to even realize that I needed to make a choice. I knew prosthetics were Not the route I would be choosing because they were heavy AF, and they were never made to match the skin color of a black woman… Nothing worse than a black breast prosthetic and a cinnamon Mocha almond Naturally colored breast 😉 When I had finally had a year of living lopsided and the mental anguish that came along with it, I called my surgeon and told her we needed to talk… It was NEVER my intentions to be flat, yet reconstruction was NEVER an option to me either… By speaking with my surgeon and explaining to her where I was mentally, she understood that all I was longing for in my recovery was ‘Symmetry’!!! And when I heard those words, it was like it was describing my needs to a T!! I wanted symmetry back in my life and going FLAT offered the BEST option for me to have that.”
How has your surgical result affected your healing process moving forward?
“I believe I would’ve never begun to heal mentally or emotionally had I never made the choice of symmetry! I was lost with how my body was ‘Supposed to look’ with 1 breast… My confidence about my Physical appearance was Under my shoe! My posture was terrible due to me trying so hard to ‘Hide’ the fact that I only had 1 breast! And my sex life with my Long time partner was NON EXISTENT to say the least!!
When I made the choice and listened to my Doctor to clearly know that this was the RIGHT choice is when I finally accepted what was to be and opened up to the idea!! I started to be FREE just be making the decision. I thank God everyday that my surgeon was soooo vain about her work, therefore she created a BEAUTIFUL masterpiece out of my Chest! Besides the scars it looks as if I have been flat for eternity and I can look at myself with total admiration and awe! I love my new Body and appreciate my medical team for even allowing me the OPTION without the Guilt or pressure to reconstruct! That was a big factor as well.. “
How did you decide that you wanted to be an advocate?
“I have no problems running my mouth about the Good, the Bad and the UN Fucking Fair!! Advocating became a part of my Daily routine during treatment because I was BLACK, GAY and battling breast cancer (Triple entendre) which to most people in the medical field seemed to be FUCKING RARE… I was told everyday what I couldn’t do with my body! Healthcare professionals left me out of the same health conversations that they were having with the white patients and I was determined to get the same level of care that I was seeing them get! It was ADVOCATE or DIE!!”
What is your proudest accomplishment as an advocate?
“Being in Forbes.com with a Gold Grill in my mouth the reads, ‘Fuck Cancer’ all BIG, BOLD and Ghetto as hell!! But that is what I was going for because to me Cancer is BIG! It doesn’t care about your status, your money or your Privilege. Cancer will try to find a way to let you know it is BIGGER than you If You Let It! Cancer is BOLD! It doesn’t give a fuck how it humiliates you, its gonna get what it wants at Whatever cost to you… And, cancer loves the Underserved. It’s the Cancer VIP section and just like anything else, it’s seen as a secret killer in most of our Ghettos. This shit needs to stop and the only way to stop it is to get the attraction in a ‘ghetto ass way’ so to speak!”
What has been your biggest challenge as an advocate?
“Keeping the emotion out of the business. Too many people are dying and I feel like I shouldn’t even make friends in the community anymore. It’s hard to focus on advocating when on days you feel like shit… But I think of those that Can’t speak for themselves or those that don’t even know what to say! I advocate from the heart and it can be mentally draining. Plus I suck at knowing stats and such, I just know that people are dying! I know that peoples options are being denied! and I know that at a time like this in people’s lives, that shit can SUCK sometimes just as bad if not worse than the cancer itself!”
What have you learned as an advocate that you would like other advocates to know?
“It’s Okay to advocate YOUR WAY!! Being it through organizing support groups to being on the senate steps topless demanding a difference! Hell I advocate for the Hood and that has landed me in some of the biggest names and on the biggest stages and in the Largest magazines that one could ever dream of being on!! Advocate from the Heart and watch how many lives you touch along the way.”
What is your vision for flat advocacy generally? What do you want the future to look like for women going flat?
“It may sound a bit corny, but I’m not a ‘Flat Advocate,’ I’m more so a, ‘Live you life the way you fuckin’ feel good’ kinda advocate! And if for some that means making the hard decision to go flat, then I will support them by all means. I do want individuals Gay or straight to know that going flat is Their choice and not anyone else’s to make. It can be a Beautiful way to continue life but they Must speak up for themselves and Do the due diligence of finding the right doctors that understand their wants and needs. It’s a life changing decision so I want people to know that yes, people’s perceptions of them will change and Yes, there will be those that criticize your choices… But in the end, it’s about Life and living on our terms and with that we deserve the best care and the best options for our choice. Period!”
A pioneer may start as a lone voice in the wilderness, but their passion for and commitment to their cause inspires others to join them. This has led to exponential growth in the field of flat advocacy over the last decade or so. In 2020, we have flat photography projects, full length memoirs, nonprofit organizations, communities on social media, and even gatherings across the world… all made possible by the work of the advocates who blazed the trail.
If you know of a pioneer in flat advocacy that you’d like to see featured, please let us know!
Disclaimer: Any and all information published by Not Putting on a Shirt (NPOAS) on behalf of a third party is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for medical or legal advice from a licensed professional. Views expressed and claims made by third parties do not necessarily represent the views of NPOAS.