Christi Salcedo has been through hell and back.
At the age of 30, she was diagnosed with stage three invasive ductal carcinoma - a type of breast cancer - which spread to her lymphatic system.
After undergoing chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and auxiliary lymph node removal and radiation, Salcedo was finally told she was in remission.
But the experience had taken its toll on her.
One year later she shared a candid post on Facebook with a photograph showing the empty space where her breasts once sat.
In the post, she called breast cancer "ugly" and spoke candidly about how it had affected her life and sexual identity.
Texas-based Salcedo, who has two children, wrote: "It's time I said this. Take a good hard look at my chest. Don't feel weird doing it. There is nothing sacred or sexual left to see.
"What is there for you to see is a hollowed arm pit. Breast cancer spreads first to your underarm lymph nodes. Seeing as mine was under my left arm, they removed all of my lymph nodes and a lot of tissue. You may also note an incision that is disfigured as this kept opening up post surgery."
She added: "While I can see that the pink ribbon brings comfort to some... I want you to know that breast cancer is ugly. It's not an easy or a glam cancer to have. In fact cancers are one and the same to me. Cells run wild. Immune system compromised.
"It robbed me of a precious part of myself that I once nourished my children with.
"It took away part of my sexual identity. Now that's if we're just talking about my breasts or my former breasts I'll say."
Following her mastectomy, Salcedo chose not to have reconstruction.
She said she did this "for many reasons", but mainly because her children had seen her "down" for a long period of time and she wanted them to see her strong again.
"I wanted them to have their mother they knew," she explained.
Salcedo said she had felt entirely comfortable in her decision until recently, when the debate emerged about which toilets transgender people should use.
"The great bathroom debate of 2016 has hurt more than just the transgender community," she said.
"It has hurt us survivors. Recently I noticed more eyes trying to figure me out. At the grocery store, restaurants... Walmart was the worst. I want to scream, 'YES! You are seeing it right! This is breast cancer... Please check yourself!'
"But instead I let my eyes meet theirs in an almost plea for a change in what has become our society."
She concluded that others should be more sensitive and less judging.
"Persons undergoing cancer treatment or post cancer treatment may lack hair and wear a baseball hat," she said.
"They may have undergone a mastectomy like myself. Please consider these things. Rant over."
Her brave Facebook post has since accumulated more than 7,000 likes and has been shared a staggering 4,000 times.
Susan McHugh commented: "I understand having had cancer twice. However, our cancer does not define us! I admire you, more then you know [sic], for shining a light on this horrific disease and hopefully educating people who have no idea what we go through."
[H/T Daily Mail]
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