We all have our personal heroes who help inspire us to put on our bravest face during the tough times.
Breast cancer “previvor” Stephanie Kelly found that from the ultimate lady superhero, Wonder Woman.
In fact, Stephanie has relied on the message of grace and strength Wonder Woman represents throughout all of her health issues. After defeating the scariest medical treatment of her life so far, though, she wanted to pay special tribute to her hero with a powerful tattoo etched across her mastectomy scars.
It was a long and difficult journey for Stephanie to not only make the preventative health decision, but also regain a feeling of confidence in her looks once it was done.
Thankfully, she was able to overcome both and decided to share her experience with the hope of inspiring others dealing with the same issue.
Be sure to SHARE her moving words with your friends on Facebook!
Stephanie shared her story in a post on Love What Matters:
I don’t remember life very well before I learned what breast cancer was and what it could do to a family.
I was young when we lost my aunt Carole to breast cancer. It was devastating.
As I grew older I learned more about my family history and the fear really began to build about how and when it might strike in our family next.
Nine years ago, I was pregnant with my third child. I was in the car, luckily stopped and sitting in my driveway, when my mom called to tell me that a lump had been discovered and it was breast cancer. It wasn’t a shock but it was still every bit as devastating. She beat the cancer and had healed back to her strong and active self.
Almost two years ago, another lump was found. This time with her cancer treatment they suggested genetic testing.
She tested positive to the BRCA1 gene mutation which drastically increases your chances of having breast or ovarian cancer.
I battle gastroparesis (when your digestive tract is paralyzed), fibromyalgia, anxiety and major depressive disorder and have severe chronic pain in my head and neck from a car wreck 14 years ago.
I deal with pain every single day.
I talked with the genetic counselor and she explained all the options.
Most came with still a higher rate of cancer than I was comfortable with and they all required constant testing — MRIs, ultrasound, mammograms and the works.
I wasn’t comfortable with that either.
It felt right from the start that a full prophylactic hysterectomy and bilateral mastectomy would be the only option that wouldn’t have me full of fear.
It was in no way an easy decision to make.
My surgeries were slightly more complicated with my other health issues and certainly the healing was affected.
The breast surgeon and plastic surgeon doctor wanted to really make sure I understood what would happen. And I did understand.
However the lower risk of infection or small chance of extra hospital stays was worth it for me.
In preparing for my surgery I tried to find younger women who had gone through this.
I had a very hard time finding women out there to talk to. So I decided to share every aspect — good, bad, embarrassing — on Instagram and Facebook so maybe another woman could find someone like I did.
I did find a lot of the women had tattoos across their scars. I knew right away this was so me!
I have 15 tattoos already so I wasn’t afraid of it hurting.
I got in touch with my local tattoo shop that had just opened and they happen to have an artist that specializes in post mastectomy tattoos.
Wonder Woman had always been my hero. Her strength, power and grace are amazing.
She became the “theme” of this whole time of my life. So including her was a given and the Phoenix had a lot of meaning to me from my chronic issues.
The tattoo itself took five visits and hurt like I could have never guessed it would but the finished product is more than worth it!
Stephanie spoke with LittleThings about her experience, which she understandably describes as “overwhelming!”
When this journey started and I made the decision to get tested for the BRCA gene mutations, I knew that I wanted to share every step and be a help or comfort to any other women (or men!) facing this.
To have my story spread across the internet and across the world — I am elated! I feel like my mission is complete!
The attention has been humbling indeed and I have met some exceptionally kind people. I am so happy that my journey is there for anyone who needs it.
Be sure to SHARE Stephanie’s inspiring story with your friends on Facebook!