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Woman got a Wonder Woman tattoo to cover her double mastectomy scars

Hereditary diseases must feel like a looming Damocles, a generational curse waiting to befall the latest member of the new generation, spat out into the world without an even deck, the odds weighed against them, the waiting pain lurking in their very DNA. To see your mother fall victim to breast cancer is bad - knowing that it's genetic, and will then come for you, is just another hammer blow to the heart.

The strength of women who choose preventative surgery is beyond commendable. A mastectomy is a removal of the breast, to prevent cancerous growths from forming inside them. It's the ultimate cancer prevention - to remove the very body part so that the cancer cannot form.

Stephanie Kelly is a 42-year-old mother of four children. Her mother had had breast cancer, and after a genetic test showed the cancerous gene mutation in Kelly's own body, she knew she had to do the hardest option to save her own life.

The question of empowerment comes after: what can she do with her body to not only overcome the scars of surgery, but also to emerge with a new, unique power, unlike the way she felt before? Stephanie Kelly found the perfect way to do both, and to overcome cancer and take back her identity in the same motion.

Kelly told People Magazine in an interview:

“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. Friends and family sent me little gifts of Wonder Woman figurines, cards, clothes, even a full robe. It all helped me feel stronger and it was a way to feel all the love and support I had and bring that along with me.”

Kelly was remarkably positive about the effect her tattoo has had on her:

"With my other health issues, I’d never really been very confident of my body. 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."

Kelly continued:

“With the family history and just my general luck about things, I’d always expected breast cancer to play some role in my life. It would have been a great surprise if it had been negative, but I completely expected to hear it was positive. The genetic counselor joked that she’d never had someone be so calm and matter-of-fact about positive results before.”

She's also found some profound meaning in her transformation: “Along with Wonder Woman, I was also drawn to images of the phoenix and how the bird reconstructs itself from the ashes of it’s former body."

Stephanie Kelly has certainly found a unique, genuine individuality for herself, something that few people achieve. To do it in spite of breast cancer only makes it even more heroic.