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August 23, 2018

43-year-old mother uses breast cancer diagnosis to empower women through her unusual tattoo

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Stephanie Kelly, a mother of four, took some of the worst news that one could receive and turned it into a mark of inspiration for the world. 

After a doctor's visit confirmed that Kelly carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, indicating a high risk of developing breast cancer, Kelly took matters into her own hands and opted to get a preventative double mastectomy soon after. 

It took some thinking, but Kelly told People she decided that her love of that part of her body was not worth putting up with the "fear [she] had of getting sick, needing chemotherapy, not being able to care for [her] family or worse." 

"It really seemed to be a small sacrifice."

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Kelly decided to go a step further and commemorate her scars from the surgery. She went to a tattoo artist at Lovely Monkey in Whitmore Lake Michigan and showed her some ideas. 

Combining her love of Wonder Woman with her admiration for the Phoenix who rises out of the ashes, Kelly decided against the option of breast reconstruction and chose instead the construction of a beautiful work of art. She says of the piece: 

"I absolutely love it!"

She shared it on social media, a brave move that helped others be more confident in their bodies too. And for Kelly a source of strength and a reminder that she can face her fears. 

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She explained:

"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."

Kelly's mother already faced breast cancer treatment twice, so it made her decision much easier. Plus, throughout the stay-at-home mom's life, she put up with a number of health issues. 

The tough cookie endured "gastroparesis, a digestive tract illness, lingering injuries from a car accident and fibromyalgia." 

When she got the results, "Kelly didn't bat an eye when her test came back positive." In fact, Kelly says she was expecting it. 

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The genetic counselor expressed how she's never seen someone as calm and matter-of-fact like upon receiving that kind of news.

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