Stephanie Kelly is a warrior in her own right.
The 42-year-old from Michigan has fibromyalgia, lingering injuries from a car accident, a digestive tract disorder, and has watched her mother face breast cancer — twice.
Oh, yeah, and she's a mother of four. NBD.
So when she opted to have a double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation that greatly increases the risk of developing breast cancer, it's only fitting that she decided to celebrate her scars with a Wonder Woman tattoo.
"I have always loved Wonder Woman, and during this time I began to joke that I was going to be like Wonder Woman and be strong and unfazed by the things I needed to do that scared me," Kelly told People magazine.
Breast cancer rates in Canada are high
Breast cancer will affect one in every eight women in Canada in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Almost 5,000 women and 43 men will die from the disease in 2017.
The number of women who undergo preventative mastectomies has risen since actress Angelina Jolie revealed in 2013 that she opted to have the procedure. Jolie carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which is passed down genetically. Her aunt Debbie, who also carried the defective gene, died of breast cancer in 2013. Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56 in 2007.
I have this image of strength, power and fearlessness across my chest and that continues to build me up. I see my scars now as entirely positive.Stephanie Kelly
Given her family history, Kelly decided a double mastectomy was what was best for her in the long term. The genetic counsellor who gave her the results of the BRCA1 test said she had a very high risk of developing cancer, Kelly told the Daily Mail.
"I didn't want to wait to get it first and then need chemo on top of the surgery. I made up my mind almost immediately," Kelly said.
Kelly calls herself a "previvor" in her Instagram posts, where she documents her journey.
"With my other health issues, I'd never really been very confident of my body," she said.
"But now, I already don't fit the mold of what the world expects, so there is a sense of freedom that comes with that. But then on top of this, I have this image of strength, power and fearlessness across my chest and that continues to build me up. I see my scars now as entirely positive."
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