A mum-of-four has revealed how covering her mastectomy scars with a Wonder Woman tattoo made her feel strong and fearless again.
Stephanie Kelly, 42, from Michigan, US, wasn’t surprised when she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene - her mum had faced breast cancer twice and Stephanie believed it was only a matter of time before she would too.
To prevent what she considered to be the inevitable, Stephanie underwent a double mastectomy in December 2016.
Sad to see her breasts go, but relieved by the treatment, she decided to celebrate her bold decision by covering her scars with an incredible tattoo of a phoenix featuring the infamous Wonder Woman ‘W’.
She told People magazine: “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 had her chest inked at Lovely Monkey parlour in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.
Along with the Wonder Woman logo, she was also drawn to images of phoenixes, as she liked the idea that the mythical birds could reconstruct themselves from the ashes of their former bodies.
The 42-year-old has battled numerous health issues over time including fibromyalgia, gastroparesis (a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine) and injuries from a car accident, all of which contributed to her feeling self conscious of her body.
When her breasts were removed, her body confidence reach an all-time low - but her tattoo soon changed that.
Stephanie has welcomed the benefits that come with having a flatter chest, including being able to run without support, sleeping more comfortably on her front and not having to buy bras.
“I can wear smaller sizes and actually shop in the girl’s section which is a lot cheaper than the women’s section. I can hug closer. I can take my shirt off in public – I haven’t yet, but I can,” she told the Mail Online.
“I am never going to look like the majority of women in this world, so I get to re-invent myself into whatever I want and make this my new body my own.”
For women who have had breast cancer and are considering a mastectomy tattoo, John Newlands, senior cancer information nurse specialist at Macmillan Cancer Support, advises to be “breast aware”.
“Redness or a rash around the nipple, skin or scar area may be an early sign of a reoccurrence of breast cancer,” he told HuffPost UK.
“An artistic tattoo could potentially hide this sign. Any woman considering having an artistic tattoo should discuss this with their breast team first.”