Finding out you have cancer is always terrifying — even if you’re expecting the diagnosis. Although we have some successful treatment methods, there’s still no cure for cancer.
Fortunately, research has advanced enough for us to often catch cancer in its early stages.
Michelle Cole, 42, knew there was a good chance she’d get breast cancer — both her mom and her sister died of breast cancer — but getting her diagnosis in 2012 was still hard.
Michelle is a mom of three children, so she knew she had to fight her illness with everything she had.
She started her treatment by having chemotherapy, then opted to improve her chances by having a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
Five years after her surgeries, Michelle decided she wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate her survival.
Instead of just getting a tattoo on her wrist or ankle, though, Michelle wanted something more dramatic: a tattoo covering both her breasts.
Michelle’s black floral “bra” made her feel more confident and beautiful, and people everywhere love how unique her tattoo is!
Before her cancer diagnosis, Michelle was just a regular mom.
She worked as a caretaker for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
In 2012, though, Michelle found a lump on her right breast, and her worst nightmare was realized: She had breast cancer.
Both her mom and sister died from breast cancer, so Michelle always knew there was a chance she’d get it too.
Doctors told Michelle that her breast cancer was aggressive.
Immediately after her diagnosis, Michelle was prescribed eight sessions of chemotherapy, and doctors recommended she think about getting a mastectomy.
Michelle went through with her chemotherapy sessions in February and March 2012. Later that year, she decided to have the mastectomy.
In July 2012, Michelle spent 10 hours in the operating room getting a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
After the surgery, Michelle was left without nipples and had scarring across her breasts.
Five years later, she decided that she wanted to do something to celebrate her survival.
A tattoo seemed like a great option.
Michelle has always prided herself on being different from everyone else, so she thought she’d do something special for her tattoo.
Instead of getting a “regular” tattoo, Michelle opted for an entire bra.
A tattoo artist spent four months working on Michelle’s tattoo, in three-hour sessions every three weeks.
Now, Michelle shows off her breasts anytime she gets the chance — from topless sunbathing to flashing strangers at the pub, Michelle loves showing people her “bra.”
Some people don’t even realize Michelle is topless!
Sometimes, when Michelle takes off her shirt around people, they just assume she’s wearing a bra or a swimsuit top.
Michelle’s husband also loves her tattoo — and doesn’t mind that his wife likes flashing people her breasts.
Everyone who’s seen Michelle’s tattoo has been supportive of it — they think it’s a great way to remember what she’s been through and celebrate her survival.
And Michelle is proud to display her strength and courage right on her chest.
Although Michelle’s tattoo is an outward display of her strength, her inner strength comes from her family.
Michelle has two older sons and a young daughter who has cerebral palsy.
Michelle knew she had to fight her cancer to be there for her daughter — she needed to survive to be able to keep caring for her baby girl.
Because of Michelle’s strength and fighting spirit, she defeated the cancer and has survived five years since her diagnosis.
Her incredible tattoo is just one way to remember everything she’s been through.
Plus, it’s a totally stunning design!
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