We love our “girls,” or as Fergie once called them, our “lady lumps.” But our identity as women doesn’t revolve around them. In the United States, about one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer. And about one in 500 will have a BRCA gene mutation, dramatically increasing their risk of getting this condition. So when it comes to our health, sometimes the girls have to go. But this doesn’t make us any less beautiful or sexy.
Here are eight women who aren’t letting cancer win. They’re proudly showing off their mastectomy scars on social media as a statement of self-love.
1. Karen Malkin Lazarovitz (@karenlazarovitz_brca)
After testing BRCA-positive, Lazarovitz found out she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer, and a 40 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. Though healthy, she decided to undergo a full hysterectomy and mastectomy as prevention. And in keeping with the title of her blog, Beauty on My Terms, she turned her scar into a work of art. Karen chose to cover her left incision scar with a floral tattoo. To learn about her inspiring story, follow Karen on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
2. Ericka Hart (@ihartericka)
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, Hart underwent a double mastectomy. As a queer black woman who is a sex educator, activist, and writer, she’s calling for breast cancer awareness and inclusivity. To raise this awareness, Hart’s breakout moment was attending Afropunk in New York City — topless. Visit Hart’s personal website to learn more about her work, or you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
3. Paige More (@PaigeM_GMA)
After taking the BRCA test at age 22, More found out she had a BRCA1 mutation. She had two choices: Enter into high surveillance programs, or have a preventative double mastectomy. She chose the latter. Now, More’s raising awareness through social media, showing how she’s taking control of her life both in tough and celebratory times. She even walked in this year’s New York Fashion Week, only five weeks after her double mastectomy! To see more of her journey, you can follow her via Instagram or Twitter.
4. Melanie Testa (melanietesta.com)
Following a breast cancer diagnosis, Testa chose to not have reconstruction after her mastectomy. She wanted to stay flat-chested, and now advocates for illuminating the invisibility of this reconstructive choice. To help normalize the breast cancer experience, she shares photos of herself and others who feel strong, sexy, and inspirational. To learn more about her advocacy, visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.
5. Catherine Keeney (facebook.com/myprophylacticmastectomy/)
With a family history of breast cancer, Keeney decided to take preventive measures and undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. Now, she’s heading to social media to help remind women to perform self-exams at home. For some uplifting inspiration, you can follow her on Facebook.
6. Lesley Murphy (@lesleyannemurphy)
A former contestant on “The Bachelor” and avid travel blogger, Murphy underwent a preventative prophylactic double mastectomy in April of 2017. That was after testing positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation. Now in the post-op recovery phase, this social media star is letting her followers know how the healing process is going. To read about Lesley’s adventures, check out her travel blog or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to keep up with her recovery.
7. Shay Sharpe (@sspw)
Diagnosed twice with breast cancer at ages 26 and 36, Sharpe felt alone. She didn’t realize young women could also get breast cancer. Now she’s the founder and president of the non-profit Shay Sharpe’s Pink Wishes. This organization grants wishes to women ages 18 to 40 who are diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. To learn more about Shay or her organization, you can check out her website or follow via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.